Inequality reaches alarming levels, report finds

A new report launched at the beginning of the week has identified that inequality is on the rise and has reached alarming levels in Samoa.

The discovery is made in the Samoa Hardship and Poverty Report: An analysis of the 2013/14 Household Income and Expenditure Survey launched on Tuesday in Apia.

It was one of two reports launched at the Samoa Tourism Fale, organised by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with two UN Agencies: F.A.O and U.N.D.P. The second report is the Samoa Agricultural Survey 2015.

Speaking at the event, U.N.D.P Samoa Officer-in-Charge, Naoko Takasu congratulated the government of Samoa on its remarkable progress towards achieving sustainable human development in spite of several challenges. 

“Despite Samoa being affected by catastrophic events such as the 2009 tsunami and Cyclone Evan in 2012, the incidence of basic needs poverty declined from 26.9% in 2008 to 18.8% in 2013/2014,” she said. 

“However, the report points out that inequality is on the rise and has reached alarming levels, and vulnerability has increased.

 “The report also recommends that, the current Strategy for the Development of Samoa does not specifically discuss youth employment issues. We truly hope that the new Strategy utilizes the analysis and findings of the 2013/2014 Household Income and Expenditure Survey to better address youth employment issues.

 “In the policy implication section of the report, it says that income and employment generating initiatives targeting youth can be very effective in reducing poverty, if they are combined with characteristic-based target approaches, such as focusing on geographical areas with higher incidences of poverty (e.g. in North Upolu).  This is a simple example of a practical way we can apply the findings of the report into our activities.”

Women and youth have been identified as the most vulnerable groups due to a shortage of paid jobs in the formal sector and low wages in the private sector. Youth in particular are hit the hardest in the Apia urban areas and North West Upolu according to the report.  

U.N.D.P will continue to work in partnership with government, civil society and private sector to create opportunities for greater economic integration of vulnerable groups as well to help mobilise resources targeting rural communities to build resilience to impacts of climate change. 

The Minister of Public Enterprises and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics, Lautafi Fio Purcell, was at launch.

He highlighted the importance of statistics as a basis for both monitoring progress and providing the evidence needed for better policy making in a globally competitive economic environment is significant to meeting the challenges contained in the S.A.M.O.A Pathway and the Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.Gs).

The S.A.M.O.A Pathway has a dedicated section on Data and Statistics, and reliable data and quality statistical analysis are vital for tracking progress of the SDGs.

In addition, the Report on the Samoa Agricultural Survey was launched as a result of the collaboration between the Samoa Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O).  

The document provides a wealth of agriculture information relevant to development of the sector and is part of government’s collaboration with F.A.O and other partners to build national capacity in collecting and analyzing agricultural data. 

 “Statistics is the fundamental building block from which governments create evidence based policies,” said F.A.O Representative, Gavin Wall during his opening remarks. 

 “The Agriculture Survey Report provides a baseline for the recently launched Agriculture Sector Plan and will direct development of the sector to meet the goals of the sector plan.

 “Furthermore, the evidence produced from the Agriculture Survey and other data sources are critically important in times of disasters. After a disaster baseline data is needed to ensure recovery and response actions are directed towards the most affected and vulnerable groups. We need to direct agricultural inputs to areas where they are needed and we need to be able to calculate the impact of a disaster on food supply in the coming months. In each case, we need the numbers that this report provides.”

Mr. Wall congratulated the government of Samoa for prioritizing the need for regular and accurate agriculture sector data that is essential for evidence based policy recommendations. 

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