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Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


This study concerns the environmental, economic and social implications of seawalls in Samoa. Information for this study was gathered using a combination of secondary sources and primary sources including interviews, surveys and participant observation. Given the cultural and economic importance of Samoa’s coastline and the fact that seawalls, which already occupy much of Samoa’s coast, are becoming more abundant, it is important to understand the implications of building them. The researcher found that partially due to climate change and sand mining, Samoa’s coastline has become increasingly threatened by erosion and coastal retreat. Seawalls are in many cases the fastest and most effective way to stabilize a particular area of coastline. There are, however, downsides to seawalls such as their common tendency to accelerate erosion on adjacent land. The researcher proposes utilizing “soft stabilization” methods to protect coastlines wherever possible and only using seawalls as a last resort. When seawalls are built, the social implications should be taken into account and the overall costs and benefits should be analyzed, including externalities. Relocation of many coastal communities will also be a necessary long-term solution. Given predictions of a significant rise in sea-level over the course of the next century, it is imperative that Samoa manages and protects its coastline in the most effective way possible.


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | International and Area Studies | Place and Environment | Sustainability


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