Climate risks in Samoa to pose more threats to health, coastal sectors in the new decade – report

By Charlie Tanala

Climate change-related disruptions, such as more intense extreme weather events and flooding, in Samoa are expected to pose threats to community health, coastal infrastructure, and several other sectors in the Pacific island country in the new decade, researchers said June 8.

A report published by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment highlighted the consequences of climate change and extreme events to the health care sector in Samoa.

Extreme weather events can disrupt any country’s public health system when they overlap with a global health crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.

“Small increases in seasonal average temperatures can [also] increase extremes, and in some places are observed to result in illness and deaths,” researchers at the Honolulu-based group said.

Samoa’s already vulnerable population segments to climate change, which include children, the elderly, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities, are now at greater risk from extreme weather and climate events, the report added.

And as flooding is expected to intensify with a warmer future climate, the island country should expect more frequent floods and water supply contamination.

The report also called on decision-makers in the high-value coastal infrastructure sector to prepare for increased coastal flooding and erosion that will affect its coastal villages, especially the floodplains of Tutuila.

Moreover, droughts, changes in fishery productivity, and other climate-related risks to food production are projected to impact the availability of goods in the island country. Higher temperatures will also negatively affect Samoa’s aquaculture industry, specifically its tilapia farms, which are already at the upper limit of the temperature threshold.

PIRCA also suggested climate risk management approaches to other key industries in Samoa, which include water resources, fisheries and ocean resources, agroforestry and farming, tourism, ecosystems and biodiversity, finance and economic development, cultural and historical resources, and education.

Authors who developed the Samoa report are from the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center, along with 25 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups.