Village abandons cleaning duties at Afu Aau waterfall due to Covid-19

Located on the big island of Savaii in Vailoa Palauli is a large waterfall with an idyllic plunge pool called the Afu Aau.

It is one of Samoa’s picturesque waterfalls which attracted tourists and locals alike prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Visitors pay an entrance fee which helped maintain the site as well as support the village.

Before the closure of borders and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a village committee cleaned the waterfall and its surroundings every Mondays.

In an interview with the media recently, one of the village chiefs, Mataafa Upuia said this was the village’s main source of income until the borders closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We have had no hope in relying on this site anymore for a huge amount of income because we haven’t had any tourists since the borders closed, we haven’t seen any local guests coming for vacation and that’s how long it takes to see at least one or two local visitors to the site,” he said.

“The income we get from this usually helps in upgrading our village tools like moavao and buying chemicals for the grass and so forth.”

The original fee for visitors to the swimming hole was $5 per person but since the pandemic, the village decided to raise it to $10 per person and $5 for children aged 6 to 10 years old.

According to Mataafa, the last time they had guests visiting and swimming at the waterfall was during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays when families visited Savaii.

The village has not received any financial assistance from the government or any donors since the Covid-19 pandemic.


Photo supplied      

Talaia Mika