CWS has launched an appeal to support the women of Ha’apai and Vava’u organising clean-up operations in Tonga.
They are part of Ama Takiloa a network of women’s groups throughout Tonga who have been deeply involved in disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation.
“Responding after disaster is what these women have been training for over many years. They are strong women who know what needs to be done now and in the months ahead as they rebuild their communities. They need funds to make it happen,” says Trish Murray, International Programmes Coordinator who has visited women on some of the affected islands.
Ama Takiloa has run workshops on disaster preparedness and climate change. They have supported each other to improve livelihoods across the island groups. They have repaired and maintained water tanks to make sure water is safe.
The director of Tonga Community Development Trust, Sione Fakaosi says they are waiting for the initial needs assessments from the women’s groups, due any day. Ama Takiloa is part of the Trust. They expect to help with food, water, shelter and medical needs.
Cyclone Ian hit Ha’apai and Vava’u on 11 January, killing one person. In Ha’apai (population 6,600) 70% of the homes are damaged or destroyed. Infrastructure including water and telecommunications have been badly damaged. Crops and livelihoods have been destroyed. Aerial assessments show widespread damage.
CWS has worked with Ama Takiloa for a decade. Representatives are attending the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) coordination meetings in Nuku’alofa to plan the response.
Ama Takiloa runs a plant nursery on Ha’apai and holds regular workshops for local women to help them improve livelihoods. They know their communities well and can organise them to do what is necessary to rebuild and to make sure the most vulnerable people are taken care of.Ha’apai has already lost some of its land from rising water levels. It is made up of many small islands, some very remote and inaccessible. Ferries may pass by every few weeks. Ama Takiloa has worked with some of these women.
Donations to the Tonga Cyclone Appeal can be made:• On line and by direct deposit• By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72• By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
CWS has been supported by NZ churches for 68 years. It is a member of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) which consists of more than 130 national churches and groups working in 140 countries for humanitarian assistance and development. ACT helps where needed regardless of race, religion or region.