Tropical Cyclone Ian has ripped through the Ha'apai islands in Tonga, destroying buildings and homes. A state of emergency was declared.
Oxfam New Zealand launched a three pronged response to Cyclone Ian: enabling access to safe water, ensuring sanitation needs are met and recovering people's livelihoods - their means of earning a living and supporting themselves and their families.
Clean and safe water is essential to prevent diseases like cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea from breaking out.
Two desalination units and a generator were flown from New Zealand to Kauvai island in the Ha'apai chain along with a specialist water engingeer who set up the units and trained a group of local people on how to use them. The desalination units turn seawater into drinking water and each unit is capable of converting 240 litres of seawater to drinking water, per hour. In the remote, outer island of Mo’unga’one villagers came rushing out to collect water when the units arrived – they had none left.
Oxfam and our partner in Tonga, a local community development agency called Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) continue to monitor water from the desalination units and provide regular testing to make sure water quality is fit for drinking and preparing food. It is currently the wet season in Tonga, but a drought is forecast for the next two months. Over this period, the desalination units will be moved to areas where they are most needed.
Fishing nets were distributed across Kuavai and training in organic weed management, composting and organic fertilisers will begin soon to enable farmers to regrow their lost crops. Oxfam's reponse team is working closely with TNYC on seedling preparation and distributing platning materials for small farmers. Farming tools will also be distributed.
TNYC is rebuilding three virgin coconut oil sites that were damaged by the cyclone. It's here where local coconuts are transformed into high grade, export quality coconut oil that generates a vital income for villagers.
This is a crucial time to support our Tongan neighbours.
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