PWD-specific COVID-19 information education materials were handed out to members along with essential supplies. Photo credit: NOLA

Apia, Samoa – About 450 persons with disabilities and their families living in Savaii have received much-needed essential supplies as part of UNDP’s COVID-19 assistance to the Nuanua o le Alofa Incorporated organisation (NOLA). 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has given NOLA more than $90,000 Tala worth of assistance as part of its COVID-19 response, to help continue the vital work it does in the disability community.

The funding provided one-off social protection assistance to persons with disabilities (PWD) in Savaii, through the procurement of food items, hygiene products, and COVID-19 information, education and communication materials on preparedness and prevention that were distributed to the families of PWD as an immediate response to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and the related State of Emergency (SOE).

NOLA staff spent the past three weeks on the Big Island, as it has been identified as having the highest number of PWD that are vulnerable socioeconomically. According to the Samoa Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 Disability Monograph, Savaii has the largest prevalence of disability, at three per cent, compared to the Apia Urban Area with 1.5 percent prevalence, and the rest of Upolu with two percent prevalence.

“We are grateful for UNDP’s support of NOLA in coordinating an inclusive and accessible COVID-19 response for persons with disabilities,” said Mata’afa Fa’atino Utumapu, General Manager of NOLA. “As the national advocacy organization for persons with disabilities, we work to realize our mandate of nothing about us without us in all aspects of our work, and the COVID-19 response is no different. This project allowed us to conduct family-level awareness throughout Savaii, ensuring that we were able to address the specific accessibility needs of those we sought to support.”

The funding also supports NOLA’s national–level production and distribution of inclusive and accessible risk communication for preparedness and prevention of COVID-19. Disability–specific information is developed and translated into accessible formats such as Braille, large print and sign language, and distributed to persons with disabilities throughout the country. Furthermore, the project supports the provision of sign language interpreters at national broadcasts related to COVID-19, assisting NOLA and the Government of Samoa in maintaining an inclusive and accessible response to COVID-19 in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified  by Samoa in 2016.

This support is part of UNDP’s contribution to the One UN-coordinated support to the Government of Samoa in response to COVID-19.
“Given the high number of PWD in Samoa, it is crucial to undertake an inclusive approach to empower people and communities to make informed decisions both in prevention and responsive care for their health. Governments, service providers and the community need to prioritize accessible and inclusive communication strategies so that information can be accessed by all, especially those living with disabilities who will be more adversely isolated due to SOE protocols,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Jorn Sorensen.

UNDP is collaborating with NOLA in its capacity as the national disability advocacy organization for Samoa. NOLA works with approximately 700 PWD throughout all four islands of Samoa, inclusive of NOLA’s member associations including the Deaf Association of Samoa, Samoa Blind Persons Association and Physical Disability Association of Samoa to deliver response activities tailor-made for PWD.

NOLA continues to work in collaboration with development partners and government agencies to ensure that their disability-inclusive COVID-19 response is implemented in conjunction with Government initiatives.

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For media queries, please contact:
Laufaleaina Lesa, UNDP Multi Country Office, Samoa|Tel. +685 23670|E: laufaleaina.lesa@undp.org | Website: www.ws.undp.org | Facebook: @UNDP in Samoa, Cook Islands, Tokelau & Niue | Twitter: @undpsamoa

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