Such very basic needs

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Clean water and electricity are among some of life’s most basic necessities in this day and age.  

For a middle-income developing country like Samoa, we shouldn’t even have to mention it. These things should be a given.

Unfortunately the reality is quite different on the ground. 

And none more where this is so obvious than the pages of the Village Voice every day where we see the perennial struggle not just for water but also for electricity and other very basic needs. 

Now we accept that life is difficult and some of these problems are not confined to Samoa. We get that. 

But no water? No electricity? 

Now that’s a shocker. Indeed in this day and age, it’s hard to imagine people living in Samoa without such basic utilities. 

Besides the fact we’ve been politically independent now for 55 years, our country graduated from the least developing country status a couple of years ago so that today everyone should at least be able to access water and electricity of all things. 

But clearly that is not the case. 

Folks, not a day goes by on the Village Voice section of your newspaper where we don’t see families calling for help in terms of water and electricity. Even in the newspaper you are reading today, there are families calling for help.

Come to think of it, we can publish an entire book with their stories about how they don’t have access to these things. 

And yet we believe we are merely scratching the surface. Keep in mind that the Village Voice mostly concentrates on Upolu and at this stage; we haven’t done as much in Savai’i as we would have liked. It would be interesting to see how Savai’i fares.

In some cases, there are families who have never known what it feels like to have running water and electricity. These families either live way inland that they are far from the public supplies or in some cases they simply don’t have the means to connect. 

Surprisingly some of these areas are relatively close to the Apia Township. 

There are other causes as well. This includes families who are negligent in terms of their spending where they have failed to pay their water as well as electricity bills. Those cases are different. 

To be fair to the government, there are a high number of such cases as well.

These are the families who are quite happy to spend money on bingo and mobile phone credits while they deliberately don’t pay their water bills until their water is disconnected. These families are not the ones we are talking about today. We believe there is a need to educate these people about getting their priorities right. Basic needs first before any luxury spending – including the donation on Sunday. If you have to choose between paying your water and the donation, we suggest you pay your water bill. Everyone has a responsibility to pay their water. It’s just the way it is.

Now the good news is that a number of wonderful promises are being made in Apia as we speak. Coming from our leaders, it’s the sort of stuff that inspires, makes us all feel good and remain hopeful.

Last week, efforts to make electricity affordable was on the agenda when more than 250 officials gathered to attend the 2017 annual Pacific Power Association, (P.P.A) meeting.

This week, the attention turns to water with the 10th annual conference of the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (P.W.W.A) officially starting today. Close to 300 people are in the country for the meeting guided by the theme of “Water supply in a Changing Environment.” 

According to the organisers, the gathering of all these officials hopes to improve the understanding of the specific risks and challenges in the Pacific region, while also fostering collaborative efforts in building the capacities of the Pacific community, public utilities and organisations to better serve the water and sanitation needs of the people of the Pacific. 

Well that’s a noble goal, isn’t it? We wish them the best for their meeting. 

We also gently remind about the plight of the poor and village folks who have yet to experience what it feels like to turn on a tap and taste clean drinking water. 

Have a beautiful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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