As Tropical Cyclone Gita passed less than 100 km to the south of the most populous islands of Tonga, it brought winds reaching 235 km/h, heavy rain and storm surges. As much as 70% of the population of the Tongatapu and ‘Eua, approximately 50,000 people, have been affected. Of those, 18,400 are children.
Water, sanitation, and hygiene services
Many of the most vulnerable people were displaced, with 4,571 people seeking shelter in 108 evacuation centres around the main island of Tongatapu. The Tongan government’s initial assessment indicated that the most significant damage was in the rural, coastal villages in the west of Tongatapu. Most notably, the storm surge prevented individuals from accessing potable water and practicing proper sanitation and hygiene. Furthermore, the cyclone destroyed crops on a large scale. The destruction of these cash crops will compromise the livelihoods of almost all of the population in these islands. As a result, the people of Tonga face food insecurity.
To improve access to safe water and secure and gender-appropriate toilets and washing facilities, and to reduce the risk of water and vector–borne disease.
-Test the quality of and repair and purify drinking water sources and village rainwater tanks and catchments in evacuation centres and schools
-Build emergency latrines in evacuation centres, schools, and worst-affected communities
-Distribute hygiene and dignity kits
-Promote hygiene and sanitation educational activities
Oxfam has made significant and long-term commitments with local partners to deliver effective water, hygiene and sanitation programs in response to disasters in the Pacific region, and in Tonga specifically. Over the years, Oxfam has built strong coordination mechanisms with local government agencies, other organizations and communities. Oxfam has invested in pre-positioned stock, including emergency drinking water production, storage, and distribution capabilities to most effectively address disaster response operations.