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Tonga Humanitarian Background

For information on Tonga Humanitarian and Government contact details please see the following links: 

4.1 Tonga Government Contact List

4.2 Tonga Humanitarian Agency Contact List

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

 

Natural Disasters

Type

Occurs

Comments / Details

Drought

Yes

Severe droughts have occurred in 2016 due to the El Nino Weather Phenomenon

Earthquakes

Yes

Severe earthquakes hit Tonga in 2009 (8.1 magnitude), in 2013 (7.4 magnitude) and 2014 (7.1 magnitude) with some damage to the infrastructure and community

Epidemics

Yes

No specific epidemics, though Tonga is at risk from emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases, like TB, SARS, Zika and avian influenza (HPAI H5N1)

Extreme Temperatures

No

Recently Tonga has experienced heat stress due to increased temperature

Flooding

Yes

No specific flooding, though low-lying areas are subject to severe ponding of water when large rainfall occurs generally during wet season which affects the population, agriculture and transport sectors and poses health risks

Insect Infestation

Yes

As for all Pacific Islands countries, pests and disease pose a huge danger to Tonga’s environment.

Mudslides

No

N/a

Volcanic Eruptions

Yes

There is an active volcano on the island of Niuafo’ou. The last major eruption was in 1946, when the island was completely evacuated. 

High Waves / Surges

Yes

Many low-lying areas have a high exposure to inundation. The most severe inundation occurred during Cyclone Isaac in 1982 where a storm surge of about 1.6m acted on top of a high spring tide Tsunami risk in Tonga is rated as “extreme”.  Tonga lies about 200km west of the Tonga Trench fault zone, where the Pacific Plate sub ducts beneath the Australian Plate. 

Wildfires

Yes

Significant fire events in countryside are related to droughts / dry season

High Winds

Yes

There is an increasing trend in the occurrences of tropical cyclones in Tonga on a decadal basis. . In January 2014, Tropical Cyclone Ian tracked between Fiji and Tonga for several days before intensifying to a Category 5 system with winds over 200 kilometres per hour.

Other Comments

 

Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife

Yes

The 2006 Nuku’alofa riots started on 16 November, in the Tongan capital to protest against the slow progress democratization in the country. A mixed crowd of democracy advocates took to the streets in protest. Some people in the crowd starting tipping over cars then progressed to looting and burning buildings. The state of emergency was maintained until August 2008 due to continued state of danger in central Nuku’alofa.

International Conflict

No

 

Internally Displaced Persons

No

 

Refugees Present

No

 

Landmines / UXO Present

No

 

Other Comments

 

 

For more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters:

EMDAT Website information for Tonga

Calamities and Seasonal Affects

Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments

Primary Road Transport

Nov - Apr

 Paved and sealed road are generally OK to go through the wet season. Nevertheless, rains on the main roads could make driving a hazard. During the wet season, floods, flash floods and landslides may happen, resulting in roads or crossroads closures, particularly in coastal areas and low-lying areas of the hilly islands.

Secondary Road Transport

Nov - Apr

The secondary roads network is often not in a perfect condition and may be quickly affected by rainfalls, making it impracticable overnight. During the wet season, floods, flash floods and landslides may happen, resulting in roads or crossroads closures, particularly in coastal areas and low-lying areas of the hilly islands.

Rail Transport

N/A

No Rail Transport available

Air Transport

Nov - Apr

Generally reliable all over the year. Heavy rain falls / cyclones may impact the air transport operations, resulting in delays, flights cancellations and temporary airports/airstrips closures. The secondary airstrips may be impracticable during the wet seasons.

Waterway Transport

Nov - Apr

Inter-island waterways transport may be affected during the wet / cyclonic seasons due to effects of high winds and rough seas.

 

 

Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments

Storage

Nov - Apr

 During the wet / cyclonic seasons, days of torrential rain may flood roads, cut power and water supplies, closing accesses to transport and storage infrastructures, impacting handling / packaging operations and making access of manpower problematic.

Handling

Nov-Apr

As above

 

Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response

Government

National Disaster Management Policy

The policy adopted by the Tonga Government is as follows:

  • To recognize the problem associated with disasters as being part of total Government responsibility and to make the best possible arrangements to deal with them given available resources.
  • To recognize the disaster management phases of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery as essential components for effective national development planning
  • To encourage traditional self-help concept within the community through education and awareness programmes.

State of Emergency

No disaster legislation has been prepared for Tonga, however the Minister may recommend to the Prime Minister to declare a State of Emergency when he determines that actions for the protection of life and property, and the relief of distress and suffering are necessary. A State of Emergency will be for a stated period of time, but shall not exceed 14 days. It can be extended only with the consent of Cabinet, with the declaration and/or extension to be gazetted at the earliest opportunity.

The Tonga Defence Force (TDF) is available and able to assist in a state of emergency. It has limited resources (3 patrol boats and landing craft) Tonga has an agreement to share "disaster response knowledge" with the United States Nevada National Guard.

There is no Civil Defence organisation as such. The National Emergency Management Committee (NMEC) are responsible for policy relating to disaster response. I case of an emergency response, coordination is the responsibility of the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO). The Minister for MEIDECC chairs both. i.e. Ministry for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communication he is also the Deputy Prime Minister.

Humanitarian Community

 Key agencies:

- Tonga Red Cross

- OXFAM         

- CARITAS

These three agencies are the key actors in Tonga. They work together with local partners, Government agencies and coordinate with other NGO’s for special or one-off projects (e.g Habitat for Humanity)


For information on Tonga Humanitarian and Government contact details please see the following links: 

4.1 Tonga Government Contact List

4.2 Tonga Humanitarian Agency Contact List


For information on Tonga Humanitarian background additional details, please see the following documents

Tonga Disaster Response Plan and Emergency Procedures

Tonga Humanitarian Additional Information

Tonga Disaster Stats

Tonga Disaster Stats 2

Tonga Disaster Stats 3

Tonga Government Structure

Tonga Risk Profile