One million tala for better family shelter
The Government has committed $1 million to families in difficult living conditions - including, it is expected, some featured in the Samoa Observer's Village Voice column - to improve their residences.
The funding assistance was allocated as part of the Government’s second stimulus package in response to the effects of the COVID-19-led economic downturn.
The Ministry of Finance’s Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, said that the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (A.D.R.A.) of Samoa would oversee project operations.
The country director for A.D.R.A. Samoa, Su’a Julia Wallwork said the project aims to assist an estimated minimum of 200 vulnerable families by providing secured shelter, water tanks or shelter maintenance.
Leasiosiofa'asisina said that the assistance is one of the most significant out of the 25 line items in the second stimulus package.
“The $1 million won’t be dispersed in one go, so A.D.R.A. is now putting together a proposal, they have already submitted an initial proposal and we had some input; we are working on finalising the document,” he said.
The Ministry of Finance C.E.O. said that once the proposal is final they will establish a subcommittee, a panel that will review the families to potentially benefit from the $1 million.
“All the work will be done by A.D.R.A. in collaboration with Finance,” he said.
“We foresee some issues with that assistance simply because not everybody that will come knocking on A.DR.A.’s door will have a genuine request, some families have good homes in the villages but because they want to move [into] town that’s why they are temporarily housed in [shelters with bad conditions].
“That $1 million will not only renovate homes but will also build good shelters for families that are in need.”
He also said that, during last year’s measles outbreak, the majority of those affected, especially the 83 lives who were lost, were from families with poor hygienic environments.
“That assistance particularly targets the most vulnerable, you [Samoa Observer] have that Village Voice programme and some of those families once the programme is up and running, we expect they will approach them and conduct their own assessments,” the Ministry chief said.
He added that for now, they do not know how many families will be assisted by the funding.
“We don’t know, it depends, for example, if a family already has a good roof, but not a cement foundation then the cost will be minimal but if the condition [of the foundation] is not good then we might have to spend a little bit more.”
Assistance provided will include shelter, water tanks, and basic kitchens such as those including sinks so that some homes can connect to the water supply.
The Finance chief said that the programme should be considered only a start, but that its continuation would depend on its future outcome.
“If we feel that we have properly targeted the right group of people and the outcome is good then why not,” he said.
He said that funding for the project came from a variety of partners and the Government which ultimately gave the project the go--ahead.
“A.D.R.A. is putting together their finalised proposal and once that is done then we meet again and put final details on the programme,” he said.
“Once we get funding then it goes into a pool of funds and some partners have tagged their funds, for example, targeting health only and this programme targets communities and the vulnerable.”
Su’a added that the aim of the initiative was to help the vulnerable by building new homes, refurbishing poor condition homes and providing water tanks.
“The whole focus is to promote hygiene in the home, it is COVID-19 focused,” she said.
She added that part of their proposal states that they will be helping at least 200 families from Upolu, Manono and Savaii with 100 new homes, 50 shelter refurbishments and 50 water tanks.
“I think Government’s assistance is very timely especially when the focus is to help Samoa prepare and try and reduce the risks of being impacted with the pandemic that is affecting the world right now,” Su’a said.
“We are intervening at the right time to help the vulnerable, to give them a chance to be able to keep the hygiene level reasonable.
“The levels of vulnerability vary, in some cases, a family is vulnerable because they are isolated from the rest of the community because they don’t have the resources, so they are the ones left behind.”
The country director for A.D.R.A. Samoa also stated that some families have more children because they are not aware or have access to family planning, so their children will keep that cycle going.
“A.D.R.A. will try its best to get the maximum outcome out of Government’s financial assistance, we will also offer financial literacy training so that there is awareness, appreciation to be able to save, budget and raise the economic level of families but also hygiene training.
“We are also working on another project which will complement this by offering food security, so families can grow their vegetables and appreciate nutritional values.
“The final outcome we are looking at is better health, more hygienic environment and a healthier family. The project should begin in the next few weeks.”
She also said that while the Government is reaching out to help people, they also needed to take their own initiative.
“We need to make the most of these opportunities so that there is a possible development,” she said.
“I pray this pandemic does not reach Samoa but if it does, I hope we can all work together to try and ease the impact.”