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In the South Pacific, Tonga is an archipelago made of 176 Islands, 36 of which are inhabited.
Tonga is known as the Friendly Islands, due to the hospitality and provisions provided to James Cook when he visited in 1773 and 1777. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where volcanoes and earthquakes are prevalent, Tonga is prone to natural disasters and is ranked the second most vulnerable country to these hazards.
In January 2022 an underwater volcano erupted, resulting in significant ashfalls across Tonga, a tsunami and three deaths, along with widespread damage to communication, transport, and housing infrastructure. More than 80% of the population was impacted, with half lacking access to safe drinking water. Since then, those who rely on agriculture and fishing (80-90%) have seen their livelihoods and source of food severely reduced, with the psychological trauma of such a violent event taking its toll.Anglican Overseas Aid is working with Diocese of Polynesia and Anglican Missions New Zealand to support short-, medium- and long-term recovery efforts in Tonga. We are also working with the
Anglican Church of Polynesia, Fiji/Tonga, to train young people in preparing communities to respond appropriately when natural disasters strike. Items to reinforce the safety and resilience of communities have been provided, including water tanks, hygiene and dignity kits, agriculture kits and debris clearing tools. Churches have been identified as evacuation points and mapping exercises have been conducted to identify vulnerable people who will need assistance in an emergency, ensuring that communities are kept as safe as possible when the next disaster hits.