Samoa Tsunami: Relief Is Only the First Step on the Road to Building Back Better

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Jason Garman, jason@oxfam.org.nz, mob +64 (0)21 202 5096 or
Prue Smith, prue@oxfam.org.nz, +64 (0)21 140 0825.

Samoa Tsunami: Relief Is Only the First Step on the Road to Building Back Better

WASHINGTON - Just over a week after
tsunami waves scoured the southern coast of Samoa, killing one per cent
of the population and seriously affecting one out of every six people,
the relief effort is still urgent. International agency Oxfam is
stressing that recovery is not just about immediate relief - it is
about longer-term development.

There are survivors who do not yet have clean drinking water and the
threat of disease still hangs over the islands. Women and children are
particularly at risk. Oxfam yesterday air freighted two large water
bladders to Samoa and continues to access isolated family groups who
have taken refuge in the hills, delivering emergency drinking water,
sleeping bags and food.

Yesterday Oxfam was allocated $110,000 (NZD$150,000) from the New
Zealand government's Humanitarian Action Fund to support its Samoan
recovery work over the next six months. Combined with public donations,
ongoing fundraising and offers of support from Canada and Germany, the
agency is planning for up to a $730,000 project.

"It's wonderful to hear how generous the public has been. I hope
donations continue to come in, because helping these people rebuild
their lives will take a big effort. When this disaster fades from the
media spotlight, the hard work really begins," said Oxfam aid worker
Janna Hamilton speaking from Apia.

Tinned fish, bottled water and mats are necessary to get survivors
through the immediate aftermath, but a successful recovery requires a
long-term commitment. Oxfam has a 12-24 month rehabilitation plan and
is working with local communities and groups.

Throughout the response, Oxfam will support our local partner
organization, Women in Business Development (WIBDI), in helping people
to regain their livelihoods. Seeds have already been planted and
seedlings will be distributed to WIBDI's network of organic farmers,
along with tools, to replace crops lost in the tsunami and rebuild
successful markets delivering organic banana, taro and coconut oil.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

In the next six months, Oxfam will also work with the Samoan Water
Authority and Department of Health to secure sanitation and safe water
supplies for the communities of Saleapaga, Siumu and Manono Island.

"People here are still in shock. To top it off, yesterday's
earthquake near Vanuatu triggered another tsunami warning across the
Pacific," said Hamilton. "We should do everything we can for the
families I saw today running for higher ground, to help them become
more resilient to future disasters. This is a chance to build back
better."

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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