ADB, Japan Help Improve Sanitation in Samoa

APIA, SAMOA - Prevention of typhoid and diarrheal diseases is at the heart of a new pilot program by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Japan that will see septic tanks installed in vulnerable households in Apia and northern Upolu.

A grant signing ceremony was held in the capital Apia today for the Samoa Community Sanitation Project, funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and administered through ADB. The Minister of Finance Faumuina Tiatia Liuga signed the agreement for the Government of Samoa. Tupua Frederick W. Wetzell, Honorary Consul-General of Japan at Apia, witnessed the ceremony on behalf of the Embassy of Japan in New Zealand. Maria Paniagua, ADB project team leader, and Maeva Betham-Vaai, World Bank/ADB Coordination Officer, also attended the ceremony.

Leaking septic tanks have been associated not only with typhoid and diarrheal diseases, but also with contamination of reefs, marine life, and groundwater. Previous attempts to improve sanitation have stumbled on the affordability of the program, and a lack of incentives to maintain septic systems. “This pilot project will set the foundation for a wider government program to help improve sanitation and health across the country,” Ms. Paniagua said.

Some 470 households in 13 villages will be targeted for the pilot program, with special emphasis placed on vulnerable households, which may include low income families, the unemployed, unskilled youth, single income households, or families with many children.

“Access to much improved sanitation facilities will be assured under this project,” said Tupa’i Iulai Lavea, Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Finance.

Applicants to the pilot program will receive either a 75% or 100% subsidy towards the cost of a new septic tank system, depending on their household income. A combination of vouchers and household contributions will be tested. The aim is to build a project that can be scaled up across Samoa, starting with 400 septic tanks built and certified by 2016.

At the same time, a public awareness campaign consisting of leaflet distribution, community meetings, and television and radio broadcasts will target 15,000 households with hygiene messages. In addition, the national government will be strengthened to carry out random inspections, and regulations resulting in fines will be enforced to ensure the proper care and maintenance of septic tanks.

The pilot project will be financed using a $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, to be administered by the ADB, and a contribution from the Government of Samoa equivalent to $135,850.