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 February 2018, TC Gita passed by Samoa on 10 February 2018 and made landfall as a category 2 cyclone. Damages were reported in Samoa which included localized flooding. With coordination from the Disaster Management Office, agencies activated their response plans and responded accordingly along with other humanitarian partners. Samoa also requested for assistance from the UN and the PHT which was coordinated through the UN Resident Coordinators office in Apia with support from OCHA.
A Meteorological Drought was officially declared in Samoa for 2015. Based on rainfall data, the north and central region of Upolu Island and the eastern region of Savaii Island are covered by the declaration. The Samoa Met Service these parts of the two main islands have experienced 40 percent below average rainfall since June prompting the Government to impose water rationing for some areas, including around the capital Apia.
In late 2012, Samoa was severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Evan which killed 12 people and displaced thousands. OCHA OP 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. 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.
The UN has a sub-regional office in Samoa. The UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Samoa covers the Pacific Islands countries of Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau and coordinate UN agencies work in development, emergency response and security situation to support governments. The UN agencies present in Samoa are FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, WHO, UN Women and WMO.