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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
The most important institutions involved in water resources management are:
- The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), which leads the management of Samoa’s environment and natural resources, working in partnership with a number of resource management Boards (Land, PUMA, Forestry, Spatial Information and Water) to advise, inform and support community and government decision-making and deliver services to the people and communities. MNRE also works with ministries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. The role of MNRE is to make sure that the environment and human health are protected, and that natural resources and services are as sustainable as possible and contribute to economic growth.
- The Water Resources Division (WRD) within the MNRE is responsible for ensuring community access to water of suitable quality and appropriate quantities to meet all reasonable health, environmental and economic development needs (MNRE, 2016).
- The Samoa Water Authority (SWA) is the major water service provider in Samoa and it is committed to providing safe and good quality water and wastewater services for Samoa as a whole (SWA, 2015).
- The Samoa Water Resources Board (SWRB), stablished by the Water Resources Management Act 2008 advises the government on any matter affecting the quantity and quality of the water resourcse, promotes coordination amongst government agencies, and ensures that there is effective monitoring of the water resources and dissemination of information.
- The Independent Water Schemes Association, established in 2007, manages and maintains independent and community water and sanitation schemes outside SWA areas in conjunction with government and NGO partners. This association has been supported by the EU-WSSP program since 2009 (IFS-UTS, 2011).
The Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) is an intergovernmental, regional organization including 18 Pacific island countries and territories, as well as Australia and New Zealand. SOPAC’s work is carried out through its Secretariat, based in Suva. While the initial focus of its work was on marine mapping and geosciences, during recent years other scopes such as hazard assessment and risk management, environmental vulnerability, oceanography, energy, water and sanitation have been included.
The Water for Life initiative of the MNRE is an ongoing process to stimulate the development of Samoa's Water and Sanitation sector. The Water for Life Sector Plan 2012-2016 envisages the following sectoral objectives:
- Strengthen the water sector governance framework to guide and sustain sector developments
- Improve watershed management and reliability of water resources data through integrated water resource management (IWRM)
- Increase access and improve provision of reliable, clean and affordable water supplies
- Improve surveillance of drinking water quality and water-borne diseases
- Increase access to basic sanitation, improved wastewater systems and improved hygiene practice
- Strengthen effectiveness of flood mitigation measures to reduce incidence and magnitude of flooding in the Apia urban area
- Strengthen the community engagement in water resources management
The Water Sector Support Programme (WSSP), funded in 2005 and financed by the European Union, was successful in creating a comprehensive and coherent framework for the development and evolution of the water sector. Amongst others, the programme has financed the rehabilitation of some rural schemes (MNRE, 2016).
In 2007, SOPAC implemented the sustainable integrated water resources and wastewater management project in Pacific Island countries, of which Samoa is a beneficiary. The project was funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Apia catchment area was considered an appropriate pilot in this project (MNRE, 2016; SOPAC, 2007b).
The Pacific Hydrological Cycle Observing System (HYCOS), funded in 2008 by the EU-Water Facility (EU-WF), provided training and support to MNRE-WRD, over a three-year period, with the re-establishment of surface water hydrological stations to help establish a programme of sustainable water resources monitoring in Samoa (MNRE, 2016; SPC, 2012).
Major investments in rural water supply and sanitation schemes were planned for 2008-2011 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and European Union (EU).
In 2010, SWA was able to cover its operation and maintenance costs from water sales (ISF-UTS, 2011).
Policies and legislation
The Samoa Water Resources Management Act 2008 (revised edition in 2014) makes provision for the management, conservation and use of water resources in Samoa including coastal waters where freshwater accumulates or discharges and is mixed with seawater. The Act sets out the principles of sustainable management of water resources, defines rights to control and manage water resources, regulates the taking and use of water, establishes the Samoa Water Resources Board, provides for the protection of the catchment areas, provides for community involvement in water resources management and defines offences. MNRE shall implement this Act and manage the water resource in accordance with principles set out in this Act (FAO, 2014).