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Samoa Post Tsunami Reconstruction Project

April 16, 2012



The Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Project has provided new access roads and is rebuilding damaged roads and seawalls in Samoa. The International Development Association’s (IDA) reconstruction efforts are improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of tsunami-affected communities by providing better transport links, improved access to schools, hospitals and markets and greater access to agricultural activities, thereby supporting income generation and helping revive tourism in tsunami-affected areas. The project is also helping build long-term resilience to ensure the country is better prepared to cope with future disasters.


Samoa is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters. On September 29, 2009, a powerful tsunami hit American Samoa, Samoa, and Northern Tonga: in Samoa, there were 143 reported deaths and an estimated 5,274 people became homeless. Direct damages and economic losses were estimated atUS$124 million (equivalent to more than a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). After massive devastation occurred along the coast of the island of Upolu, many tsunami-affected communities chose to relocate inland, away from sites of trauma and disaster risk. The Government of Samoa approached IDA to support relocation and rehabilitation efforts by providing new access roads, and rebuilding damaged roads and seawalls.



IDA helped provide improved infrastructure, access tracks, and inland routes to relocation sites, and a new road along the east coast; upgraded existing seawalls along critical parts of the coastal roads; and provided assistance to local communities to help build resilience to natural disasters. In total, the project is adding some 35 kilometers of upgraded or new roads to the Samoa road network.



The project has already made substantial progress in restoring and improving the road network that provides access to tsunami-affected areas, relocation sites, and key coastal corridors. As a result, economic activity and access to social services have recovered considerably in project areas, and the resilience of transport infrastructure to future natural disasters has been strengthened. Repair and restoration of coastal protection and seawalls, as well as investments in improving disaster risk management are expected to be underway shortly.

Road reconstruction has directly benefitted 862 households, approximately 5,000 people. However, seawalls and coastal road reconstruction have broad-reaching benefits for the 130,000 inhabitants of the main island of Upolu, helping improve livelihoods and revive tourism in tsunami-affected areas. The following results were achieved between October 15, 2010 and November 2011:

  • Completely restored road access for communities (about 5,000 people) affected by the September 29, 2009 tsunami;
  • All access restored for emergency response and clean-up activities;
  • 20km of existing access roads upgraded and sealed;
  • Entire 10km of Lepa-Lalomanu link road upgraded and sealed; and
  • 70 percent of relocated houses (approximately 3,650 people) provided with improved transport access to schools, clinics, and agricultural and economic opportunities.

" The new road has helped a lot. There was a dirt road before but even with a vehicle, it was difficult to go up there. Now we have a nice road. It has inspired confidence among the people who moved up there that the government was doing something for them.  "

Sili Apelu

Resort owner

Bank Contribution

IDA is contributing US$10 million out of a total project cost of US$11.79 million.



Following the devastating tsunami, a post disaster needs assessment (PDNA) was undertaken as a joint initiative of a cross-agency group comprising of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) working jointly with the Government of Samoa, with technical support provided by the The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), financial support from the Government of Australia, and contributions from a number of multilateral and bilateral agencies and NGOs. 

An additional US$1.79 million of project funds is being provided by the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The PRIF is a multi-partner infrastructure coordination and financing mechanism initiated in 2008 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), AusAID, the New Zealand government via the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZMFAT), and the World Bank Group (WBG). The European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) became members of the joint initiative in 2010.

The implementing agencies are the Land Transport Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) handles overall project coordination.


Toward the Future

Once the project is completed in April 2013, roads, access tracks and seawalls will be completed to the point that communities can safely and easily access critical infrastructure and services such as schools and clinics. Future activities concern: (i) reconstruction of the East Coast Inland Route, covering some 5km of roads; (ii) completion of seawalls reconstruction; and (iii) dual access escape routes along the south east coast.

people affected by the 2009 tsunami have access to good road