UN-Habitat in Samoa

Country Information

The Pacific has a very rapid rate of urbanisation and high population growth and is not well enough prepared to cope with the challenges and opportunities that urban growth presents. UN Habitat is well placed to assist Samoa to improve its urban management and planning practices and enable new thinking and actions about how best to evolve city development stratgies for the future.

The agency provides training, expert advice, proven tools and methodologies for small-medium sized urban centres within alignment of national needs and demands as articulated in National Development Strategies. In the Pacific, this is framed in assisting countries meet their commitments to the Pacific Urban Agenda (Initiative 13.5, Pacific Plan).

Samoa has an urban population of over 37,000 within 2 political districts. Apia accounts for 75% of the national income (GOS, 2003). Some locations are urbanizing more quickly than others, but all are confronting challenges related to growth. Apia’s urban development challenges arise from problems of policy and planning. Therein lacks a strong mechanism necessary to coordinate policy and planning across infrastructure and service providers. As a result, integrated urban management is unable to effectively coordinate land use policy, or plan for strategic infrastructure investments at the city level that are demanded by a growing urban economy. In this respect theoverriding need to coordinate infrastructure improvements with policies and planning is crucial.

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Sarah Mecartney, HPM-Pacific
UN Habitat
Level 5, Kadavu House, 414 Victoria Parade
Suva, Fiji
Email: mecartney-unhabitat@un.org


Cities and Climate Change Initiative, Apia
Samoa City Development Strategy, Apia
Regional knowledge Management: Strengthening Pacific Urban Agenda Implementation
Key partners are the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Planning and Urban Management Agency

UN Habitat remains a key urban advocate in Samoa and maximised opportunities for continued building awareness of both national and development partners surrounding the benefits of improved management of urban growth. An immediate outcome has been support for an urban policy position paper to Cabinet (June 2013) for a National Urban Policy to establish long term national city strategic framework to guide urban development, growth and change as well as to encourage effective and sustainable financing. UN Habitat supported the lead-up to this through country support to WUF 6 (2012), CCCI and the Cities Alliance supported Samoa City Development Strategy.

In terms of its climate and risk management projects, UN Habitat’s role has been one of capacity building, technical input and knowledge management. A key achievement in 2013 was the inclusion of vulnerable communities in the Apia climate Vulnerability Assessment and the contribution of the revision of the National Building Code to allow for affordable safety standards and open dialogue for incremental housing improvements.