New UNICEF – Government of Japan partnership to support thousands of Tongan families affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami

13 February 2022
“After [the tsunami passed] we came down and I saw that the waves damaged the house. Big trees and branches were pushed inside the yard.” Semisi, 15, was in a neighbouring village preparing for Sunday school when he first heard the eruption.

SUVA, FIJI 14 February 2022 – UNICEF and the Government of Japan announce a new US$1,250,000 partnership to support the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga to ensure that about 19,250 people, including 10,000 children, affected by the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami have sufficient access to safe drinking water, a clean environment, as well as good health.

This commitment constitutes the continuation of the strong partnership between the people of Japan and UNICEF aiming to improve the lives of all children living in the Pacific.

“The astonishingly huge volcanic eruptions and the subsequent tsunami devastated the Kingdom of Tonga, and thousands of people are still being affected and suffering. While the people and Government of the Kingdom of Tonga have been striving to overcome difficulties caused by the disaster, Tonga was infected by COVID-19 for the first time after more than two years of COVID free period,” said the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga, H.E. Mr. MUNENAGA Kensaku. “This assistance will help Tonga to accelerate their restoration efforts from the disaster as well as to fight against COVID-19. I believe Tonga shall overcome the double disasters of volcanic eruption and COVID-19.”

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano caused the destruction of essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and interruption of services to families, schools, and health care facilities. This has further exposed people to the risk of illness from drinking unsafe water, open defecation, and from not being able to regularly wash their hands with soap and water.

In addition, the combination of the volcanic eruption and the tsunami created hurdles in the continuity of essential health services for affected communities. Severely limited access to basic medicines and equipment has given rise to concerns on availability and timeliness of consultation and treatment for illnesses and infections.

The contribution provided by the Government of Japan will allow UNICEF to support at least 2,500 families and their children living in all divisions of Tonga, with priority given to highly affected areas in Tongatapu, Eua, Ha'apai, Mango, and Vavau, to recover from the impacts of these recent natural disasters. The communities in these areas will benefit from resilient emergency WASH services for affected households, schools and health care facilities. The partnership will also ensure the restoration and long-term continuity of essential health services.

“Pacific Island countries, including Tonga, are amongst the most at risk to natural disasters. We thank the Government and people of Japan for this support, and together with the Government of Tonga, partners and communities, we will ensure that the most vulnerable, especially children, have access to good water, sanitation, hygiene, and overall health,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “This is crucial, especially with the challenges faced in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters and, of course, the ongoing pandemic.”

This partnership plays a key part in supporting the ongoing recovery. It will strengthen the national capacity and build the resilience of communities to cope with the aftermath of the destructive effects of natural disasters.


Notes to Editors:

About the Government of Japan:

Japan provides funds (grants, loans, etc.) and technologies that are useful for “development”, including peacebuilding, governance, promotion of basic human rights and humanitarian assistance, in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to eligible countries and regions. ODA includes bilateral aid to directly assist developing countries and regions, and multilateral aid, which consist of contributions to international organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP, and WHO.


For more information, please contact:

Ayano ITO, Advisor, Embassy of Japan in Tonga, Tel: +676 22221,

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137,

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137


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