Aftermath of Tonga Volcano: UN Helps Islanders Face Long-Term Challenges |
The natural disasters have been a blow to Fangupō Lātū, 74, from the village of Pātangata. His fishing boat was sunk and destroyed during the tsunami, leaving him unable to earn a living.
However, he is also worried about how the crisis is affecting his community. “My village’s main source of income and livelihood comes from the ocean, but the waves have damaged the majority of our boats,” he says.
“We used to sell seafood every day, but now there is none. Anyone whose boat has not been destroyed will no longer fish, due to the toxicity warnings,” he adds, referring to fears over the ashfall that blanketed the islands of Tonga after the volcanic eruption.
UN Tonga/Sia Angilau
Food supply issues
Recovery and food security are the main medium to long term challenges facing Tonga. As cleanup efforts continue, schools will reopen in Tonga but, when they do, many families will not be able to afford the required school fees.
Given these specific needs, United Nations teams on the ground in Tonga and Fiji are working with the Tongan government, the Ministry of Fisheries and the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) to ensure that the needs of people like Mr. Lātū are satisfied.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry are identifying how and where they can help, to accurately meet Tonga’s additional food needs and ensure a coordinated response .
Total funding of approximately $354,000 from the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA) has been allocated to Tonga, through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO).
Additionally, and immediately thereafter, Tonga’s National Emergency Management Committee approved funding to support a decrease in the cost of deep sea fishing licenses to five Tongan pa’anga (the local currency) per kilogram (2.20 USD per kg), for one month. .
© Konionia Mafileo
Rehabilitation of agricultural aquaculture is also underway in Tonga, particularly for Mokohonu (sea cucumber) and Kanahe (fish), and the Ministry of Fisheries has implemented its immediate response plan until the end of this month.
This includes ensuring that enough fish from safe sources (deep sea tuna and snapper longline fisheries) is made available to the public for consumption. The Ministry of Fisheries is working closely with FAO to target priority areas for immediate support.
“We gradually have a clearer picture of the effects this disaster has had on the vital fishing and agriculture sectors on which so many Tongans depend – whether in terms of damage to coral reefs or ash coverage in some parts of the islands,” notes FAO’s sub-regional coordinator for the Pacific, Ms Xiangjun Yao.
“As part of the One-UN approach, we are preparing to provide support so that people can get back on their feet as quickly and safely as possible.”