Tonga, second most at risk country in the world to natural disasters

Tonga is the second most-at-risk country in the world to natural disasters and hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and tropical cyclones.

“Most recently, Tonga’s Northern Islands Group of Ha’apai, was hit by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Ian resulting in loss of one life and displacing almost 70 per cent residents at a cost close to US$48 million at the beginning of last year, 2014,” said Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni during the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (3WCDCC), which was held from 14-18 March 2015, in Sendai, Japan .

“Later in the year, severe drought in most part of Tonga affected some key agricultural export products. The year closed off with volcanic eruptions between the Hunga Islands, only 62 kms away from the capital, Nuku’alofa, which had caused disruptions to international and domestic air transportation”.

“These natural occurrences have increasingly eroded our development gains, and affect the overall level of sustainability of our Disaster Risk Reduction.”

“My Ministry ensures that the limited resources and technical expertise available are effectively and efficiently share and utilized, as part of our effort to building a more resilient Tonga against these risks” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Tonga is the first country in the Pacific to develop and approve a Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) for the integration of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, he said.

The Tongan government has also brought Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management departments together under one ministry as part of its attempts to ensure its commitments to its resilience projects.

“Tonga continues to work together with its regional organizations and development partners in addressing its high degree of vulnerability to climate change and disaster risks” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“We seek greater investment in science and technology to better inform risk reduction activities and improved early warning systems,” Hon. Sovaleni said.

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