U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Jonathan Lee Yoo had the pleasure of giving remarks at the USAID REACH Project completion event held on June 24. In partnership with Caritas Samoa, the USAID REACH project increased community resilience and strengthened emergency response capacity in Samoan villages. “Immense, lasting benefits come from building communities and ensuring that a better standard of living is available to the next generation,” said Chargé Yoo.
Today’s completion event of the USAID REACH Project marked the tremendous work carried out by Caritas Samoa and its partners over the past eight months. The USAID REACH Project increased water access in nine villages, provided COVID-19 prevention educational sessions to 3,000 families, and pre-positioned 625 hygiene kits to be distributed to affected families in case of emergency.
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, worked with local organization Caritas Samoa to address increased humanitarian needs resulting from and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the REACH Project, USAID and CRS have identified communities with a history of disease outbreaks, water insecurity, and lack of hygiene awareness to provide targeted support such as water tank installation and hygiene promotion. Through training for community health workers and families, increased water access in water-scarce communities, the project has distributed essential hygiene kits to thousands of people across the five Pacific Small Island Developing States, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In Samoa, USAID and CRS installed nine water tanks to increase community access to clean water for handwashing and disinfecting surfaces. In collaboration with Samoa Water Authority and the Samoa Ministry of Health, Caritas Samoa provided training to water committee members on developing water safety plans, water tank maintenance, and proper water usage to ensure access to basic water services.
These emergency response efforts build community resilience and prevent disease transmission through basic case management, community engagement, and infection prevention and control. The total beneficiaries are 7,375 people from over 25 villages in Upolu.
In late May, Moamoa Fou received a 10,000 liter water tank to serve more than 460 of its residents. About 100 families do not have metered water and most of them rely on collecting rainwater in buckets. Those with metered water in the area are cut off during times of rain and flooding. These families will all benefit from the rainwater collected in the new tank. Additionally, the Moamoa makeshift ford is infamous for being washed away often isolating about 200 families until river water subsides. The tank is located next to a shelter for displaced families residing by the ford that often overflows and floods their land.
As Samoa is vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods and tropical cyclones, USAID closely coordinates with the national government as well as non-government organizations to complement relief and emergency efforts. In addition to disaster relief, USAID supports a number of initiatives to strengthen disaster response capacity of Pacific Island countries, including Samoa, and the larger East Asia and the Pacific region.
Communities affected by disasters are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, USAID has provided more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to help communities around the world impacted by the virus, including $35 million in the Pacific region.