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Water shouldn’t be an issue for poorest, says P.M.

The Prime Minister believes it is “ridiculous” to suggest there are Samoan people without water – and the head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (A.D.R.A.) said she can understand his perspective.

When asked how he intends to empower the poorest among Samoa to contribute to the fight against climate change, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said families should not be struggling, given the abundance of water in the country. 

“In Samoa, we have so much water. It would be ridiculous to say nobody has any water to drink, especially in this rain,” he said.

“Long ago, when we did not have pipes, what we did in our villages, there is a thing called tufu along the beaches. 

“All you do is dig and spring water comes in. That is the value of local knowledge. In every village, there is a tufu.”

When pointed to the abundant desire by families for donations of water tanks to help with their needs, Tuilaepa acknowledged that some families may benefit from a water tank, but their overseas relatives ought to support them.

“We have been sending people since 1982 overseas, so almost every family will have relatives working overseas that can contribute to the development of their families here.”

“There are many, many ways to help out.” 

One organisation in Samoa — who has donated dozens of water tanks to vulnerable families — is the A.D.R.A. Director Su’a Julia Wallwork, who said she understands the Prime Minister’s perspective. 

“I can see where the PM is coming from, it has been his main goal to see people help themselves, and not depend on others,” Su’a said.

“This has been his constant message to guide us in our work to help the people of Samoa. He is a firm believer in the old story of giving the rod and not the fish.”

While Samoa has been well fitted out with pipelines, some families simply cannot afford to access the water, either due to their own plumbing or the price of water.

“For many vulnerable families, the main pipeline may only be just a few metres away, but their economic situation does not allow them access,” said Su’a.

According to Su’a, A.D.R.A. has helped over 2000 families lift themselves from the most vulnerable states, by helping them develop a livelihood. Sometimes that means building a garden with them, and sometimes that’s donating a water tank.

“Some of them are isolated and vulnerable, because they cannot make any contribution to be part of the Church or village activities. They are the ones that are left behind.”

While many families take up the help enthusiastically and develop themselves, Su’a said she realised that not everyone will do that. Some families are not committed to improving their situations, she said.

“No matter how high our aspirations are for them to attain a better way of life, and no matter what resources we offer them, if they do not have the commitment and do not want to put in the hard work, then we toil in vain,” she said.

A.D.R.A. has experience with families who, two months after a donation of seedlings and training, don’t plant the seeds and develop their gardens.

“They have undermined the opportunity offered to them to put food table on the table, and maybe fund the means for supply of water to their homes,” Su’a said.

On the other side of the coin, a family A.D.R.A. supported by building a bok choy garden with them earned T$1200 in two months of selling bok choy, and eventually could afford to spent $260 on installing a tap to connect them to the water system.

“The joy and excitement on the family’s faces and the children splashing under the running water is unforgettable,” Su’a said, happily.

“It is up to their commitment and diligence to be part of the project, in order to enjoy favourable outcomes. I fully understand where he is coming from on this issue, to drive our people to aspire for better things.”

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