1 November 2016

The ‘Water Leaders Forum 2016’ was officially opened this morning at the TATT Convention Centre by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

As part of the National Environment Week programme, the Forum brought together leaders from government, diplomatic corps, private sector and non-government organisations and members of the community to share knowledge on water issues.

The theme for the forum is, ‘Raising the Water Agenda and Governance in Samoa’.

“The theme highlights the importance of water to the development agenda of our country, and also the great need to take action against some of the challenges facing water resources management, water services delivery, community engagement and the coordination of the water sector,” said the Prime Minister in his opening address.

“Water is life! Its importance to economic, social and environment resilience is limitless, but we continue to see unsustainable development activities that impact and undermine the sustainability of this limited resource not only globally but nationally as well.

“This is why it is important for our leaders to take action and provide good governance at the Government, private sector and community levels, to address and reverse these impacts and stresses on our water resources.”

The Prime Minister also touched on some challenges facing the water and sanitation sector which include unsustainable land use near water sources and river systems, water quality improvements, cost recovery, water wastage, access to water, drainage improvements, sanitation and safe wastewater disposal.

The strong partnerships between Samoa and development friends was also acknowledged by the Prime Minister before he lead the first session which focused on discussions on water resources management and the importance of undertaking sustainable developments when considering community settlements, agriculture and industries.

The panelists for this session included the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Afioga Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao; Minister of Finance, Afioga Sili Epa Tuioti; NGO/Community representative, Afioga Fiu Mataese Elisara; Samoa Farmers Association chairman, Afioga Afamasaga Faamatala Toleafoa; and Chairman of the Joint Water and Sanitation Sector Steering Committee, Afioga Seumanutafa Malaki Iakopo.

The Minister of Agriculture in his presentation said its the responsibility of his Ministry to develop agriculture for food security and for earning revenue. He said this is all dependent on Ministry policies as well as advice from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on preserving water catchment areas near farming and livestock developments.

Afioga Fiu reminded the gathering of the small percentage of water available for human consumption and use and he urged the need for preservation. He also referred to the importance of utilizing lands for farming and other developments but emphasised the importance of water catchment areas.

Afioga Afamasaga said that there is a Samoa Farmers Association saying that if people care about the environment and water, then these elements will care about us. He also asked to value the assistance of donor partners who are there to help local organisations. He also spoke of global challenges and the positive changes needed to continue with our developments.

Minister of Finance, Afioga Sili reiterated on the essence of collaboration and cost and advised to always value a sector-wide approach. He also acknowledged the assistance from development partners and the need for partners to complement each other’s services.

Seumanutafa elaborated on the importance of legislations that preserve water catchment areas and the recognition of the independent water schemes as water service providers.

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