Urban drift causing grief for both islands
Urban migration might be viewed as the solution to some problems but not everyone wins.
That’s the opinion of So’oalo Kome Mene, from the village of Samauga, Savai’i, who says both Upolu and Savai’i suffer as a result of this movement.
The 57-year-old explains that people move in search for a better life but they end up neglecting their homes in Savai’i.
“The one thing I have noticed, is that there are hardly any people living in Savai’i nowadays,” So’oalo told the Village Voice.
“People are all moving to Upolu. It’s understandable because people need money to survive and so they go and search for a better life in Upolu.
“The thing is, there are many job opportunities in Upolu, many companies people can work for. They can also take their children with them to school.”
So’oalo says that people in Savai’i rely a lot on families living in Upolu and overseas because there is no good way of making money on the big island.
“Living in Savai’i is looking less pleasing for some people,” he said.
“The thing with living here is, people are losing money every day through different domestic obligations and yet there aren’t many money generating opportunities.
“We have no job opportunities here. If something happens in the village or within a family then where is the money going to come from? We rely a lot on those living in Apia.
“When the faalavelave becomes too much to handle then we call Australia and New Zealand.”
The only solution So’oalo can think of is to bring more job generating businesses to Savai’i.
“Many people in Upolu are suffering because it’s getting too crowded and everyone is migrating there to look for money,” he said.
“They are given small pieces of land to work and live on and they find it hard to pay off things because there is a high competition for jobs.
“Bringing more companies here to Savaii can help ease the problems for Upolu and increase living standards for Savai’i.”
According to So’oalo, one problem generated from urbanization is overcrowding which leads to a ‘wild, wild west’ mentality.
“It’s getting harder to control some villages in Upolu because it’s getting too crowded,” he said.
“People are doing their own thing, starting commotions here and there; the Government should really look at making Savai’i a bit more pleasing to the eye so people won’t relocate all the time.
“Many villagers there don’t have strong village councils to bring order to their people. Savaii still has that piece of the faasamoa intact.
“The only change I think is acceptable is we should stop the practice of banishment from villages. That’s the only thing I don’t agree with. Everything else is alright with me.”
So’oalo urges that the government take the Upolu urban situation seriously and think of ways of making Savaii more attractive for people.
Not only will creating more jobs benefit the people of Savaii and bring them back, it will also benefit Upolu through less competition and less crowding.
“That’s my advice to the government,” he said.
“We can fix so many problems through the development of Savaii. Less stress on Upolu, more attention to those living in Savaii and less trouble from crowded villages in Upolu.
“That’s how simple it is.”