Belgium and the United States fund FAO support to Tonga – Tonga

Recovery activities will improve food security and safety of communities affected by the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami

03/16/2022 Apia / Nuku’alofa

With financial support from the governments of Belgium and the United States of America, FAO is allocating a total of US$700,000 to restore the agricultural livelihoods of households affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha ‘apai. USD 400,000 was provided by the Government of Belgium under the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), established in 2004 to strengthen FAO’s capacity to respond rapidly to emergencies. An additional US$300,000 has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development Humanitarian Aid Office to fund activities aimed at reviving or rehabilitating agriculture and its sub-sectors, including fishing, providing direct support to local farmers and fishermen. The work will be carried out as part of ensuring Tonga’s food security through a better understanding of the longer-term impacts of ashfall.

Ms. Xiangjun Yao, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, said: “In close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry as well as the Ministry of Fisheries and other key partners, planned interventions are carefully tailored to Tonga’s needs and context, including the current and evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early damage assessments indicate that 80 percent of crops were affected by the tsunami in some of the worst affected communities in Tongatapu, Ha’apai and ‘Eua. Thousands of square kilometers of crops and farms were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami and the ashfall. Livestock in tsunami-affected areas have already been reported dead following the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano eruption and tsunami that occurred on January 15, 2022. Newly funded activities are coming at an important time as communications in Tonga have been restored. , after 5 weeks of work on the 827 km fiber optic submarine cable which was damaged by the volcanic explosion.

With its country presence and extensive experience in providing support against a range of shocks and disasters, FAO has been at the forefront of this response from the start. Now, with this new funding, FAO plans to support around 3,000 farming households – including agriculture, livestock and fishing – representing a quarter of all subsistence farming households in the country. . The planned interventions will focus on:

  • boost agricultural production through support for land clearing and the supply of agricultural inputs,
  • protect remaining livestock with the provision of emergency veterinary care and agricultural supplies to improve livestock health and farm recovery,
  • restore small-scale fishing activities and allow small-scale fishing of coastal pelagic fish.

The activities are based on the results of a series of initial assessments carried out by the Government of Tonga with FAO colleagues based in Tonga, Samoa, Bangkok and Rome which includes documentation of the impact of risks, including by optical satellite imagery, especially on land. cover changes due to tsunami, flooding and ash cover impact.

“FAO has tirelessly collected and reviewed information on agricultural production and previous emergencies, and the resilience assistance provided to Tonga is being reviewed to get a picture of agricultural and fisheries activities that are occurring. were taking place before this double catastrophe. the likely needs are,” said Ms Kara Jenkinson, FAO Emergency and Resilience Coordinator for the Pacific.

The disaster situation has been further complicated by a rapid increase in community transmission of COVID-19. As the government supports those most in need in the aftermath of disasters, authorities are also rapidly implementing measures to protect the health of Tongan citizens. As data collection and sharing continues, FAO stands ready to align its response and recovery activities as understanding of damage and loss in the most affected areas improves further. Volcanic activity, ash emissions, weather conditions and the spread of COVID-19 will continue to be monitored over the coming months to fully understand the possible cumulative effects on the agricultural system and its livelihoods.

“As part of the One-UN approach, we are preparing to provide support so people can get back on their feet as quickly and safely as possible,” Kara added. “We strongly believe that cooperation, partnership and information sharing will remain essential to support the country effectively and efficiently.”

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