Thousands in Tongatapu to get safe drinking water through NZ project

Nearly 4,000 people in six villages across western and eastern Tongatapu will soon have better access to safe drinking water.

The New Zealand Government, through its Humanitarian and Disaster Management Aid Programme, has committed NZD51,000 to Caritas Tonga for the restoration of water supply catchments in communities vulnerable to water scarcity, particularly during El Nino conditions. The project forms part of the Tongan WASH Cluster recovery plan.

Implementation involves renovating and rehabilitating five dilapidated village rainwater tanks and installing three new water refill stations. These will consist of 20 Rotomould tanks in positions that are easily accessible to all village members. The activity will take 12 months to complete, from April until March 2017.

Caritas Tonga Programmes Officer Mrs ‘Amelia Ma’afu said the project evolved out of community concerns over water shortages following the prolonged drought period of recent months. “The work is vital to restoring key infrastructure to the villages, and building greater resiliance to future natural disasters.”

New Zealand High Commissioner HE Mrs Sarah Walsh said New Zealand is pleased to support Caritas Tonga and the WASH Cluster on their drought response.

“The lack of adequate and potable water significantly increases health risks in these communities, particularly for women and children. I commend Caritas Tonga for responding to the need to increase safe water access, ensure villagers are guarded against disease, and improve sanitation. Their work will contribute to building safer, more robust societies”.

In 2015 Caritas Tonga successfully completed a similar refurbishment project of 11 water catchments in Ha’apai.

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