Samoa has been hit by five major tropical cyclones in the past 30 years, with most of Samoa’s airport terminals and runways, bridges, and roads in coastal areas increasingly at risk to the impacts of sea level rise, storm surges and intense flooding. This includes extreme weather events in 2018 and 2020 that led to flooding in parts of Faleolo International Airport, resulting in severe disruptions to operations, hence the need for this investment. Combined with Samoa’s high vulnerability to disasters and climate change impacts, is the need for the country’s tourism sector – which represented 24 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 – to start its long road to recovery from Covid-19 and the 2019’s measles outbreak.
“Samoa’s long-term vision, ‘Samoa 2040’, aims for the country to be a leading tourism destination in the Pacific, with 400,000 arrivals per year by 2040,” said Iretomiwa Olatunji, Acting World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific. “Working in partnership with the Samoan Government, we know that strengthening the resilience and longevity of aviation and road infrastructure is vital to achieving this goal, including growing the economy in other transport reliant sectors that builds on other World Bank transport projects in Samoa and the Pacific.”
“Addressing critical aviation and road infrastructure is essential to strengthening economic resilience in Samoa,” said Olo Fiti Afoa Vaai, Samoan Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure. “This project is strongly aligned with our Pathway for the Development of Samoa and the Samoa 2040 vision, and we are pleased to be able to continue our strong partnership with the World Bank; one that has consistently delivered transport infrastructure that is resilient, robust and ultimately ensures that Samoans can get where they need to go, safely.”
The Samoa Aviation and Roads Investment Project, which will be implemented over the next seven years, will provide support for a comprehensive flood risk management strategy and improvements to drainage at the airport and will also provide funding to improve the resilience and safety of critical road sections on Upolu, as well as support for emergency response and reconstruction through its Contingent Emergency Response Component.
In addition, in recognizing that improving transport connectivity has broader regional benefits, the new project will support the Safety of Aviation for Regional Resilience (SOARR) program, which aims to improve the resilience, safety, and asset management of airport infrastructure in Samoa, as well as in Solomon Islands and Tonga.
The new project also aims to address the gender equality gap in the transport sector in Samoa. In 2017, only 12.5 per cent of the 2,400 people employed in the sector were women – with the project allocating at least 20 per cent of road maintenance and services work to women, as well as supporting a new plan to build female talent across Samoa’s transport sector.
The new project will also benefit other productive sectors of the economy dependent on transport infrastructure including Samoa’s agriculture, general commerce, and provide enhanced health care, education, and social connectivity benefits.