Overview of Australia's aid program to Samoa

How we are helping

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$35.8 million

2017-18 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$23.6 million

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$37.2 million

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. Samoans are now living about 10 years longer on average than 25 years ago. Net primary school enrolment is near universal, but challenges remain.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $37.2 million in total Official Development Assistance to Samoa in 2017-18. This will include an estimated $23.6 million in bilateral funding to Samoa.

Samoa has a small population of around 196,000, a narrow resource base, and is geographically isolated. Economic infrastructure needs improving and credit is relatively expensive. 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 Investment Plan, the Australia-Samoa Aid Partnership Arrangement (signed on 7 December 2016) 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 regulatory environment in Samoa is a critical component of stimulating economic growth and building resilience to future economic shocks. Australia and other donors are jointly supporting the Samoa Economic Reform Program to strengthen economic growth and macroeconomic resilience, as well as government service delivery, efficiency and transparency. 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 which will improve economic opportunities with women and people with disabilities.

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. Under the sector wide approach program (SWAP) (2008-2016) Australia worked closely with other donors to support the Government of Samoa to improve access to effective, efficient, and quality health services. Australia’s contribution to the SWAP under its development program helped lift the quality of health services, including the replacement of key health buildings and medical equipment, as well as improving the delivery of healthcare services. Throughout the life of the program, there has been an increase in women attending antenatal care and in children receiving at least one dose of the measles vaccine. There has also been a decrease in the infant mortality rate and the rate of smoking.

Australia’s new four year health program in Samoa, the Samoa Health Program (SHP), progressed in 2016-17 and focuses on improving primary health care, improving leadership and governance and improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes. We also continue to be committed to 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 2016-17, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • economic and governance reforms to strengthen debt, government policy and practices, and revenue collection
  • economic infrastructure, including the widening of Vaitele and completion of the Leone Bridge
  • school infrastructure improvements which have helped Samoa achieve near universal primary access
  • 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
  • supporting more than 1300 Samoans to graduate from the Australian Pacific Technical College since 2007
  • providing approximately 132 Samoans overall with Australia Awards scholarships, including short term awards, to study at tertiary institutions in Australia and the Pacific.

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.

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: 22 September 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