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Not everyone benefit from gains: Govt report

The Samoa Government has acknowledged not everyone is “benefiting equally” from the positive gains that the country has made in terms of access to essential services and positive G.D.P. growth in the last five years.

Its assessment of its own performance is part of a Government report titled “Samoa's Second Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”, which was published on June 30 and was prepared by the Samoa Government’s S.D.G. Taskforce.

According to the report, the country has made gains in terms of access to essential services as well as overall positive economic growth in the last five years but the benefits have been lopsided.

“One in five of Samoa’s population are living under hardship conditions, and while there is no extreme hunger, food and nutrition insecurity is rising. Unemployment levels are rising especially for women and youth and income inequality is significant with the top 10 per cent of the population earning more than the combined earnings of the bottom 30 per cent,” states the report. 

“While there has been positive progress in reducing maternal mortality and overall better access to health services including reproductive health services, the non-communicable disease crisis continues to cause more sickness, premature deaths, disabilities and costing government up to 15 per cent of the health budget.”

The report states that the pressure on Samoa’s health system was exacerbated by the 2019 measles epidemic as well as the COVID-19 global pandemic that followed. 

In terms of education, the report concludes that most Samoan children are in primary and secondary schools, though not a lot of them are in early childhood education.

“Most of our children are in primary and secondary schools but only 1 out of 5 of our infants are in early childhood education and the low retention rate and quality of education in primary and secondary levels is a national concern especially for our boys.”

On the gender and women empowerment front, the report states that there are positive results “though a lot more remains to be done.”

The academic success of Samoan girls, who according to the report were outperforming boys “at all levels of education”, was highlighted and that complements the fact that there are more women today in top and middle management in Samoa’s public sector.

However, a lot more work needs to be done to address the low representation of women in Samoa’s Legislative Assembly, added the report. 

“The representation of our women in parliament is increasing but still low compared to other Pacific nations and globally.”

Violence against women also continues to be a challenge in Samoa with the report making reference to the high incidences of violence against both women and girls.

“Unfortunately, despite multiple legislations and national and community programmes and initiatives, Samoa still struggles with unacceptably high levels of violence against our women and girls and there are also incidences of child labour.”

The country’s record as one of the best performing economies in the region over a decade prior to 2008 was also highlighted, but all these gains were lost due to manmade and natural disasters including the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Despite this, as a Small Islands Developing State, our development remains sensitive to increasingly more frequent and intense natural and man-made global shocks such as the Global Economic and Food and Fuel Crises in 2008, natural disasters which hit Samoa in 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2018, the measles epidemic in 2019 and the COVID-19 in 2020,” states the report.

“There was also the closure of the country’s biggest manufacturer and employer in 2017 because of changing global market conditions. All these events have disrupted national development, affected economic growth, and undone many of the hard-fought development gains. Preliminary 2018 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (H.I.E.S.) results show a slowing of economic growth.”

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