Overview of Australia's aid program to Samoa

How we are helping

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$37.0 million

2016-17 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$23.6 million

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$37.8 million

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $37.8 million in total Official Development Assistance to Samoa in 2016-17. This will include an estimated $23.6 million in bilateral funding to Samoa managed by DFAT.

Samoa and Australia have an enduring and cooperative relationship that extends across political, security, economic and people-to-people links. Australia is the largest destination for Samoan merchandise exports and is Samoa's fifth largest source of merchandise imports.

Samoa has made good progress towards meeting a number of the Millennium Development Goals. Samoans are now living about 10 years longer on average than 25 years ago. Net primary school enrolment is near universal—but challenges remain.

Samoa has a small population of around 192,000, a narrow resource base, and is geographically isolated. Economic growth has slowed to 1–2 per cent in recent years. Economic infrastructure needs improving and credit is relatively expensive. Samoa’s external debt is over 50 per cent of GDP which poses a risk to Samoa’s macro-economic stability. This affects Samoa’s ability to respond to future economic shocks, including from natural disasters. It is difficult for Samoa to attract and retain the skills it needs. 

Fifty per cent of pupils finish high school, with especially high dropout rates for boys. Literacy and numeracy standards need attention. Samoa is struggling to deal with the rising number of people with non-communicable diseases. Around 22 per cent of Samoans are in formal employment, one in five find it difficult to meet basic needs, with those in rural areas and people with a disability at higher risk. 

Australia’s commitment to development with Samoa is ongoing. In line with Australia’s aid policy and the Strategy for the Development of Samoa, Australia is working with the Samoan Government to pursue the following strategic priorities:

Objective 1: To enable economic growth

Improving the economic and regulatory environment in Samoa is a critical component to stimulating economic growth and building resilience to future economic shocks. We are supporting Samoa to pursue economic reforms to increase revenue and international trade. Australia and other donors are jointly supporting the Samoa Economic Reform Program to strengthen Samoa's budget, debt management and public financial management systems, and to encourage investment, tourism and private sector-led growth. Donors link aid payments to agreed reform benchmarks and provide technical assistance to support implementation.

Australia is also helping to improve Samoa's economic infrastructure. Australia is supporting the rehabilitation and upgrading of key roads and bridges including the widening of Vaitele Street and the reconstruction of Leone Bridge—both critical links between Apia Port, the Central Business District and Apia’s industrial zone. We are also supporting the upgrade of information communication services and we will increase economic opportunities for women.

Investments to enable economic growth

Objective 2: To advance Samoa's health and education outcomes

A healthy and educated population is the cornerstone of building a strong and resilient Samoa. Australia’s Education Sector Support Program is a joint collaboration with New Zealand to support the Samoan government strengthen its education system by supporting implementation of Samoa's Education Sector Plan 2013–18. Australia, New Zealand and Samoa's collective investments are focused in critical areas that will improve the quality of the education system, with a focus on improving basic numeracy and literacy skills. It will also help build Samoa’s educated workforce by supporting more young people to complete secondary education and vocational training. Through our Australia Awards program, Australia is also providing tertiary and postgraduate scholarships for talented Samoans to study in Australia and the region and return to Samoa as future leaders in their respective fields.

Australia is also working to improve the health of Samoans so that they can live longer, have more productive lives and contribute to the economy. Australia works closely with other donors to support the Government of Samoa to improve access to effective, efficient, and quality health services. Australia is supporting a partnership from 2015 to 2018 between Queensland's Department of Health and Samoa’s Ministry of Health focused on improving governance and leadership, public health and health information. Samoa Health Program is an eight-year plan that will focus on tackling non-communicable diseases, which are Samoa's major health challenge. We will strengthen Samoa's health information systems to improve monitoring of the disease burden and targeting of scarce health resources.

Investments to help Samoa progress health and education outcomes

Objective 3: To strengthen governance

Our investments are supporting the work of the Samoan government to further develop an effective public sector and well-functioning institutions. We are building a quality and accessible Parliament House to meet the 21st century needs of Samoa's Parliament, helping to increase opportunities for women’s political participation and supporting stronger civil society and private sector engagement on Samoa's development challenges as well as in the delivery of services. Through our Civil Society Sector Program, we provide small grants to community-based organisations, including village councils and women's committees, to represent and advocate on behalf of communities, especially in support of vulnerable groups.

Investments to strengthen governance

Our results

In 2014–15, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • Economic and governance reforms to strengthen debt, government policy, practices, and revenue collection, and policies to provide a more effective tourism sector and to facilitate private sector participation in state-owned enterprises.
  • The publication of a Demographic Health Survey which has provided evidence on a range of health indicators. Infant mortality has fallen from 37 per 1000 live births in 1981 to 15 in 2014. The under-5 mortality rate has reduced from 24.7 per 1000 live births in 2006 and 20 in 2014. More than 90 per cent of women had at least one antenatal care visit and 70 per cent had all four of the recommended visits. More than 80 per cent of women delivered their babies in a health facility.
  • The official opening of a new Australia, NZ and World Bank-funded Orthotics and Prosthetics workshop on 8 June 2015. The workshop will assist Samoa’s National Health Service Mobility Device Service team to provide hundreds of new wheelchairs and walking aids every year.
  • School infrastructure improvements and a primary school fee grant program which have helped Samoa achieve near universal primary access.
  • More than 1000 teachers being trained in methods to deliver the new bilingual school curriculum.
  • Supporting more than 1100 Samoans to graduate from the Australian Pacific Technical College since 2007.
  • Providing approximately 50 Samoans with Australia Awards scholarships in 2015, including short term awards, to study at tertiary institutions in Australia and the Pacific.
  • Supporting close to 300 Samoan Australia Award alumni to graduate with tertiary qualifications which address human resource gaps in the workforce since 1996.

Our changing program

Australia's aid program to Samoa reflects shared priorities of the Samoan Government. We are closely aligning our investments with Samoa's own plans and investing our aid where it can most effectively support Samoa's development and strengthen its economic resilience.

We are increasing our focus on investments that support economic and private sector growth with a focus on improving economic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and internet connectivity. We will seek to consolidate our aid investments to maximise the impact and efficiency of our aid. We will look for opportunities for Samoa to fully benefit from the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, when finalised.

We will increasingly link our funding to the achievement of results and we will improve synergies between Australian-supported bilateral and regional initiatives. We will continue to channel the majority of our assistance through the Samoan Government, as it has demonstrated the ability to manage and account for Australian aid funds effectively.

Recently we have broadened our support for labour migration by expanding opportunities for Samoa workers under the Pacific Seasonal Workers Programme. The Programme, led by the Department of Employment, connects Pacific island workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas. This benefits both parties and the average worker remits around $5,000 during a six-month placement.

Last Updated: 10 March 2017
Local trainees of the Mobility Device Service, assembling a wheelchair for a client of the Mobility Device Service. Motivation Australia is providing training for the MDS team at the new Orthotics and Prosthetics Building built through a partnership between the Governments of Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and the World Bank. Credit: DFAT
Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sue Langford along with staff and students of Vaivase Primary School, celebrate the opening of a new school building funded by Australia under the Cyclone Evan recovery program. Credit: DFAT
The Asau women’s committee is one of numerous civil society organisation in Samoa to benefit from the Civil Society Support Program funded by Australia, Samoa and the European Union. Credit: DFAT