The Independent State of Samoa, known as Western Samoa until 1997, is made up of nine volcanic islands, two of which (Savai’i and Upolu) make up more than 99 per cent of land. More than half of the population lives on Upolu, where the capital Apia is located.
Samoa is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly cyclones which occur mainly between November and April. The linear island chain of Samoa is situated directly northeast of the Tonga-Kermadec trench which is the main source of seismic activity directly affecting Samoa. Samoa is also susceptible to strong earthquakes which generate tsunamis impacting the many villages located along the coastlines.
In September 2009, Samoa was struck by a tsunami which killed 143 and injured 310 people. Over 12,000 people were affected by waves that wiped out large stretches of the south and south-east coasts of the main island of Upolu.
In late 2012, Samoa was severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Evan which killed 12 people and displaced thousands. OCHA ROP issued an Emergency Cash Grant of US$50,000 and provided weather updates, assessment tools, and a global standby taskforce to support mapping. Several Pacific Humanitarian Team partners from Samoa and Fiji also supported ad-hoc requests from the government.
The UN has a sub-regional office in Samoa. The UN Resident Coordinator’s Office can coordinate UN agencies to assist the government to respond to emergencies and national security issues. The UN agencies present in Samoa are FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, WHO and WMO.