Tonga Tonga

Supporting and empowering communities in Tonga during times of crisis. Donate now.

Supporting and empowering communities in Tonga during times of crisis. Donate now.

Climate change, location and the topographical nature of Tonga leaves communities vulnerable to the devastating impacts of natural disasters.

Since 2017, CARE has been working with partners across Tonga – including Live and Learn, MORDI Tonga Trust, and Talitha Project, to help build communities’ resilience to natural disasters and the worsening effects of climate change, and to ensure emergency supplies of food and water are available during these times. From the effects of tropical cyclones to volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, we have supported our local partner organisations to assist more than 15,000 people across the country.

In January 2022, the eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai volcano caused an 18 kilometre-high ash cloud which blanketed the country, poisoning crops and contaminating the air and the water supplies. And the subsequent tsunami caused mass destruction to homes and livelihoods – more than 80 per cent of the country was affected. 

With the support of CARE and our donors, our local partners in Tonga were able to distribute lifesaving drinking water, food and shelter materials; provide hygiene and hand-washing kits to help prevent the spread of diseases; repair household and community water tanks; clear land to replant crops and repair nurseries; provide seeds and equipment to farmers; and establish spaces for children.

Fast Facts

Population: 105,517 (2022 est.)
Life expectancy: 77.53 years (75.89 years male, 79.23 years female) (2022 est.)
Infant mortality: 12.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)
Under-5 mortality*: 11.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Maternal mortality: 52 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Access to improved drinking water: 99.6% (99.8% urban, 99.6% rural)
Access to improved sanitation: 98.9% (99.4% urban, 98.8% rural)
Percentage of seats held by women in national parliament^: 0% (2021 est.)
GDP per capita: $6,400 (2019 est.)

Source: CIA World Factbook, *UNICEF, ^World Bank

Humanitarian Response to Volcanic Eruption and Tsunami

On 15 January 2022, Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, an under-sea volcano in Tonga, erupted and subsequently caused a tsunami. Water and air quality as well as infrastructure was affected on the nation’s largest island, Tongatapu.

Families lost their homes, crops and livelihoods which required immediate response and support from CARE’s partner organisations in Tonga: MORDI Tonga Trust and Talitha Project.

CARE Australia provided shelter materials for those whose houses were damaged, clean water, and dignity kits for women and girls – which contained locally-sourced hygiene items – all of which were distributed by Talitha Project. Supplies were also prepositioned in readiness for future emergencies.

“Everyone was calling our office asking for assistance: government officials, district officers, families, everyone came to us for help. Because we know our communities, we were able to rapidly assess the most pressing needs and shift our focus to address them,” said Akanesi Pohiva, a staff member with Talitha Project.

© Talitha Project
© MORDI Tonga Trust

Talitha Project is an organisation led by local women – who proudly encourage women and young girls to become strong leaders and take the opportunity to intuitively support their communities during times of disaster.

“Locals know their own communities,” says Akanesi. “Locals know which houses have people with disabilities, elderly people, vulnerable people, parents with young children, pregnant women – and we tailor our response to not just include them but prioritise them and evacuate them first. Being a local responder also makes it easier to respond quickly. Bringing in a whole group from outside would just slow everything down. The lifesaving measures we take are more achievable as locals.”

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Your donation can help end extreme poverty and give people the means to build a better future for themselves in countries like Tonga.

For those living in extreme poverty, your support brings education and training, healthcare and clean water, nutritious food, and new ways to earn an income. And in times of crisis, you help us deliver emergency relief. Please donate today.