[Pacific Islands Report] ADB: Samoa Land Reforms Won’t Alienate Customary Land
Critics say rights to land will be lost, communities won’t benefit
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 1, 2015) – The Asian Development Bank says proposed reforms to improve the use of customary land in Samoa will not result in people being alienated from their land. Both the Samoan government and ADB have been criticised for not properly consulting the country on its plans to promote the economic use of customary land. Fears have also been raised that people will become alienated from their own land, and that the economic benefits would not reach local communities. The ADB has been providing technical assistance to the government’s efforts to encourage jobs in Samoa. The ADB says proposed reforms are focused on allowing land leases to be used as collateral if – and only if – agreed by customary landowners. It says consistent with Samoa’s Constitution and tradition, there will be no alienation of customary land. The ADB says leases are already allowed under Samoan law, but only with the informed consent of landowners and this will not change.