By Tupuola Terry Tavita in Apia
The village council of Saleaumua has unanimously agreed to move inland away from the coast. Of the 46 families there, only four remain on the coast. The rest are now spread out in encampments in the hills.
“We have seen the destruction caused by the (tsunami) wave and we do not want to experience that again,” said Village Mayor Tiumalu Amakesi. “We’ve therefore decided that it is best to move up to the hills.”
The village thanked government for the assistance it has given. Reports that aid is not reaching them, the village said, is completely unfounded.
“There is plenty of food, but we can always do with a bit more. Clothes are aplenty and we are indeed very thankful. The water trucks have been regular and there is plenty of clothes. We’d like to thank government and its many donor parents not to mention the charity of Samoans living abroad.”
The consensus at Saleaumua is that they want to move on. “We have a problem with running water in the hills and that is an issue we’d like to take up with the water authority,” said Paramount Matai Tafua Maluelue Tafua.
“Water can be easily sourced from a nearby stream but requires reticulation work.” The uphill settlement area also has to be clearly defined so that development work can go ahead, he said. “Right now getting people settled in and getting running water is the first priority,” said Tafua.
“Later, road works and power connection can take place. Perhaps what we also need now is asphalt to surface the access road up there to make it easier for transport and travel to the hills.”
Since the population has agreed to move inland, the village council Tiumalu said, has agreed that at some stage the school and churches too will move upland. “It’s only sensible that schools and places of worship should be close to where people live.”
However, the village has agreed that families’ fale talimalo (guest houses) will still be kept at the old village site on the coast. “It will be for sentimental purposes and somewhere people can stay if they come down from the hills once in a while.”
Saleaumua was completely destroyed by the recent tsunami. The village council has set up a committee to work with government and donor agencies in distributing tsunami assistance. The tsunami had swept everything away and what the residents there need now, they said, are items such as coking stoves, chainsaws to clear the land, wheelbarrows and other amenities.
“We have received tents and tarpaulins but we could always do with more. We’ve already received stuff like axes, spades, machetes and farming tools so we can go ahead and cultivate the land.”
Before the tsunami the village had a large communal pig pen. It was completely destroyed by the tsunami. The village has requested government for assistance in fencing material to corral the pigs as they’re now scattered in the bush.
‘It’s a way of helping us help ourselves. I hope a hundred yards of fencing wire is not too much of an ask.”
Source: Government of Samoa