PRESS RELEASE - USD10 MILLION GRANT TO TONGA

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ADB PROVIDES USD10 MILLION GRANT TO TONGA FOLLOWING DEVASTATING TSUNAMI

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a USD10 million (around TOP22.68 million pa’anga) grant to the Government of Tonga on 21 January, 2022 to assist with early recovery and relief efforts and help restore life-sustaining services following the deadly tsunami that hit the country.

The seismic episode occurred on 15 January,2022 with the eruption of the undersea volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, some 65 kilometers north of the capital Nuku’alofa, triggering a tsunami which destroyed parts of Tonga and was felt as far away as Alaska, Japan, and South America

"On behalf of ADB, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the people and the Government of Tonga for the loss of lives and livelihoods and wish them the very best as they rebound and rebuild after this disaster," said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. "The support we are providing will help the Government of Tonga and our development partners to offer timely and coordinated emergency assistance to the many thousands of people affected by the tsunami.”

The government has confirmed four casualties, one on the main island of Tongatapu and three in the Ha’apai group. The eruption severed communications with Tonga’s islands when the country’s communications lifeline—the international fiber optics cable was cut. Following preliminary surveillance flights, the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions in Tonga reported that thick plumes of smoke and ash have spread across the country, tainting water supplies. The flyover images have revealed extreme housing destruction on a number of outer islands. Death remains at four. The tsunami impacted the foreshore on the western and northern side of Tongatapu, where the capital Nuku'alofa is located. Boats and large boulders have washed ashore there and shops and other businesses along the coast have been severely damaged.

The USD10 million quick disbursing grant financing to Tonga is sourced from the third phase of ADB’s Pacific Disaster Resilience Program. The ADB-supported program provides timely and predictable financing to quickly help the emergency response and reduce the indirect economic and social costs of physical losses after a disaster. On behalf of the Government of Tonga, the Minister of Finance, Hon Tatafu Moeaki said, “This program of assistance is best placed for Tonga due to the fact that we are one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters, and this contingent financing facility is very fast in responding to our needs. We put in our request to the Bank on Friday 21st January and ADB disbursed the funds to us on the same day. This grant will certainly help government with immediate and recovery needs following the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption and the tsunami.”

 

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