Funded by the Pacific-American Climate Fund (PACAM) through USAID, METI’s three-year Climate Change Action project, which started on 1 May 2015, works with communities to address climate change and the impact it has on the Samoan people.
Currently, across 25 villages (expanding to 50 in total over the life of the project) METI provides permaculture training (see below for more details) , including how to produce organic compost and create ‘kitchen gardens’ (as a way to exemplify ‘permaculture-in-action’ and also as a means to Healthy Living and increased income generation from the surplus of crop production). The project also promotes other useful permaculture techniques, called ‘best practices’.
Through a unique partnership with the village leadership, METI’s ‘Taiala’ (Samoan for ‘path-breakers’) are identified within each village and trained by a team of Assistant Trainers and the Central Trainers from METI’s head office in permaculture techniques. These Taiala are then responsible for ensuring training at the village level and that knowledge is passed on to others.
Another distinct aspect of the PACAM project is METI’s Permaculture Demonstration Farm at Vailele, located just outside Apia. This purpose-built farm serves as a training facility as well as a site to showcase the impact of permaculture. Here METI has identified best practice permaculture techniques which are being replicated across Samoa.
Who are the Taiala?
The ‘Taiala’ (Samoan for ‘path-breakers’) are defined as front-line health, education and sustainable development workers. They are ordinary men and women, some chiefs or orators, others retired public servants or housewives, and others still, trusted ‘taulelea’ or untitled men. What they all have in common is that they are sons and daughters of the villages in which they live and work. Thanks to the respect and trust they command, Taiala can be considered as individuals to whom the other villagers will listen and learn from.
Thanks to the Taiala, METI’s Climate Change Action Project has a built-in sustainability factor. The Taiala remain in their respective villages and, being members of their respective communities and co-ops, will ensure the techniques and trainings are used and passed on to others.
Looking to the future: cooperatives
METI encourages individuals to set up Farmers and Producers Cooperatives in their respective villages. From a social point of view, cooperatives foster participation in decision-making: decisions are made inclusively and democratically. In this way, in the context of this project, the cooperative offers its members peer support for continued permaculture practice and sustainable development initiatives.
To encourage the sustainability and the success of the co-ops, METI acts as a support organization and provides management training and assists in the administrative requirements to set up co-ops.
In this part of the METI’s Climate Change Action project, the Taiala will be trained to facilitate training in cooperative management so that the co-ops will function effectively and according to the legal requirements. The Taiala will also be trained to facilitate training workshops for farmers to become eligible to join the participatory guarantee scheme (PGS) Samoa as certified organic farmers.