The underground volcano Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai erupted violently on January 15, part of continuing activity. The initial ash plume is estimated at 15.2 km and reached 30km high. It triggered a tsunami that touched much of the Pacific. Many parts of the country are covered in ash, damaging food crops and water supplies. People are cleaning up by hand.
Early reports are that homes and infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed. 84% of people have been affected. Communications are limited until repairs are complete.
Our thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with the people of Tonga and those affected by the eruption. We are working with other churches in a shared response.
The people need emergency supplies and help to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. They need safe water, hygiene supplies, and replacement food crops as well as comfort and support.
Our local partner Ama Takiloa – Tonga Community Development Trust is made up of local groups throughout the country. Members have undertaken disaster preparedness training and have supported their communities through cyclones and drought. A New Zealand-based staff member says they will help with:
- Repairing rainwater harvesting systems – Ama Takiloa has knowledge and skills around rainwater tank management.
- Providing safe water and hygiene supplies
- Food crops and food-producing trees as well as nurseries providing seeds, seedlings and plants
- Topsoil to re-establish household and community gardens
- Starting or reestablishing household flocks of chickens and ducks
- Community support to those who are anxious and worried.
Pacific Conference of Churches is supporting local churches and the Tonga National Council of Churches.
CWS is working with church mission agencies in a coordinated way. Additional funds raised are likely to be used for others Ama Takiloa group members of theTonga Community Development Trust.