Government of Tonga Gives More Than 70 Homes to Tsunami-Hit Community

Dignitaries at the opening ceremony including Lord Tu'ivakano (fourth from left)

Niua Community Rebuilds under Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Project

NUKU’ALOFA, December 1, 2012— Today the Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano handed over the remaining 34 of 73 new houses to the people of Niuatoputapu who lost their homes during the 2009 tsunami. Supported by the World Bank, the houses were constructed as part of the Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Project which has helped rebuild people’s homes, infrastructure and livelihoods.

Alongside the Prime Minister, the opening ceremony in Niuatoputapu was attended by H.E. Thomas Roth, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga; Robert Jauncey, Senior Country Officer for the Pacific Islands for the World Bank and the Hon Sosefu Fe’ao Vakata, Member of Parliament for the Niuas Constituency.

In September 2009, the remote Niua islands in the north of Tonga were struck by a major earthquake and tsunami, which submerged nearly half of the main island of Niuatoputapu. The impact was devastating: nine people lost their lives; 85 homes were destroyed with more badly damaged; and critical government infrastructure, schools, and water and sanitation systems were torn apart.

Three years later, things look very different. Nearly 130 affected buildings have been repaired or rebuilt, including homes, shops and community halls; water supplies have been resumed, roads have been reconstructed, with further improvements in progress, and children are studying in a brand new school.

“This is a real milestone for the people of Niuatoputapu who have shown their strength and resilience as they rebuild their community,” said the Hon. Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano. “These homes signify a bright and safer future, and are a mark of the collective efforts of all involved – community and government and our partners.”

“It is a great honour to be here as these homes are handed over to the Niua community,” said Robert Jauncey, Senior Country Officer for the Pacific Islands at the World Bank. “The Post-Tsunami Reconstruction project is immediately improving the lives of people affected by the natural disaster, but moreover helping strengthen critical infrastructure for the future.”

“Today is a proud moment for Niuatoputapu,” said the Hon Sosefu Fe’ao Vakata, the Minister for Revenue and Member of Parliament for the Niuas Constituency. “After much adversity, the community is not only rebuilt but is reinvigorated – the new homes, the new school, the community centres are testament to this.”

In Niuatoputapu, the houses have been constructed on higher ground and to cyclone-resistant standards – a critical step in an area with high vulnerability to tropical cyclones and other natural hazards.

Starting in October 2010, the project was funded under a grant from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The project was implemented by a committee chaired by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning in coordination of relevant line ministries, with complementary reconstruction activities conducted by New Zealand’s aid program, Caritas International and the Government of Japan.

The remaining homes built under the project were handed over to the community in September this year.

PM and Robert Jauncey open new home for the community

PM and Project team with Niua community

- Press Release World Bank