| The Courier - N°159 - Sept- Oct 1996 Dossier Investing in People Country Reports: Mali ; Western Samoa |
Focus on utilities
by Mylanwy van de Velde
Western Samoa's cooperation with the European Community began in 1975 with its accession to the LomÃ© Convention. From the start, the sector to benefit most from programmable funds (ECU 4.6 m under LomÃ© I and ECU 6m under LomÃ© II) was the energy sector, with the financing of the Samasoni Hydroelectric Scheme in the late 1970s and the Sauniatu Hydropower Scheme in the early 1980s.
In parallel, a programme of 260 microprojects was funded involving the development of poultry and pig farming, and fisheries, covering 96 villages on the main islands of Upolu and Savai'i. A further ECU 890 000 was allocated to the Western Samoa Development Bank, in the form of a credit line, to increase the Bank's lending capacity. In addition, at a time when copra exports were still considerable, the Community financed storage and handling facilities for coconut oil and copra pellets (ECU 900 000).
On top of programmable aid, Western Samoa received 12 Stabex transfers totalling ECU 9.3m for export losses on copra, wood, bananas and cocoa in the period 1975-84.
Under LomÃ© III, the development of the country's substantial hydroelectric power potential continued, and Western Samoa began to make considerable steps towards self-sufficiency in energy needs. While in 1980 some 78% of the electricity generated came from diesel plants, by 1986 this percentage had dropped to 26%. The volume of petroleum imports for electricity generation dropped to 36% in the period 1982-86. With the building of the Afulilo Hydropower Plant (LomÃ© III and IV), these volumes have decreased further, with positive benefits in terms of foreign exchange savings. The scheme (which was co-funded by the Asian Development Bank, the EIB, the World Bank and the Western Samoa Electric Power Corporation) involved the construction of a 10 million cubic metre reservoir, a penstock, a powerhouse, and the installation of mechanical equipment and transmission lines, and has contributed substantially to the quality of electricity supply on the island of Upolu.
Additional work has been done with LomÃ© IV funds to address the question of rural water supply: a water master plan and design study for a number of rural areas have been completed, and a public awareness programme on the rational use of water resources has been designed for implemention at such time as planned infrastructural work goes ahead.
Finally, an ECU 1 m microprojects programme has been initiated with the aim of financing the renovation of infrastructure for rural communities in the fields of water supply, health, education, tourism, agriculture and fisheries.
Stabex payments under LomÃ© 111 (1985-1989) and LomÃ© IV (1990-1994) amounted to ECU 11.1 m and ECU 5.7m respectively. These were paid to compensate for losses in coconut oil and copra products, especially, but also for losses on exports of cocoa beans and of wood in the rough.
In addition to the above grant aid, the EIB has provided a total of some ECU 9m in risk capital in the years since 1981, the bulk of which was used in connection with the Sauniatu and Afulilo Hydropower Schemes.
A further total of ECU 660 896 has been allocated in emergency aid to Western Samoa, in 1983 after a serious fire on Savai'i, and in 1990 and 1991 after the disastrous cyclones Ofa and Val.
Programming of the next tranche of EC funding under the eighth EDF has still to be completed, but the indications are that prominence will be given to extending and upgrading the water supply network.
A new health-centre for Tafua
The sight that greeted the people of Tafua when they emerged from shelter in 1990, following the passage of Ccyclone Ofa,was one of complete devastation. The tropical storm had been one of the worst in living memory and this village community on the island of Savai'i, together with many others in the Samoas, found themselves having to start almost from scratch. Homes had been swept away' crops destroyed and much of the essential infrastructure Iay in ruins.
It is a testament to the resilience and determination of the people in these communities that there are few signs today of the havoc wrought by the winds just six years ago. In some places, rows of dead trees still stand in silent witness to the power of Mother Nature, although the scene is softened : by the new crops and lush vegetation growing beneath. But the villagers have rebuilt their houses and, with some help from outside, they have been able to re-establish i the essential community facilities as well.
Through its micro-projects programme, the EC was able to offer a helping hand in the task of reconstruction. For the modest sum of just ECU 10 000, Tafua now has a new community health clinic adjacent to the site of the old one which was swept away by Ofa. In keeping with the rules of the scheme, the villagers were obliged to contribute 25% of the cost-which they provided in kind, in the shape of the labour for rebuilding the clinic. The Courier visited Tafua in June and was shownaround the facility by Nurse Agata Leuelu who provides primary health care for the 600 villagers. We also met local Methodist minister, the Rev. Siaosi Selesele, who explained how the people had taken shelter in the neighbouring school when the storm reached Samoa. It turned out to be the right choice as it was one of very few structures left standing in the neighbourhood. Villagers are obviously hoping that there won't be another 'Ofa' for a very long time' but if and when the next big wind does strike, the new ctinic-which has been built to withstand a lot more strain-should hopefully be able to weather the storm. In the meantime, it provides an important service in the delivery of health care to the people of the area. The European Community has also provided micro-project funding to help rebuild the health clinic at Taga on Savai'i.