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Caritas is assisting people to improve their own livelihoods and adapt to the effects of climate change in Tonga. We have been working with Caritas Tonga since 1999.
This project has been very successful. A total of 158 households (from 425 households that are targeted to be involved by 2015) comprising of 19 groups in 19 villages have been successful in getting loans to set up microenterprise activities. These groups have been working in the following areas: tapa cloth making (11 groups), mat weaving (1 group), piggery (2 groups), peanut farming (3 groups), kava (1 group) and yam planting (1 group).
A total of NZ$89,551 has been distributed as loans and as of December 2012, a total of NZ$56,144 has been repaid to Caritas Tonga who are administering the project. Caritas supports this project with financial help from the government’s New Zealand Aid Programme.
Caritas Tonga shared with us the heightened concern of coastal erosion, water salination, soil degradation, changing weather patterns and how these impact communities in the islands Ha’apai and Vava’u. During our visit in 2012, stories and photos from Tonga were used to illustrate the effects of climate change to wider audiences in Aotearoa, eg. schools and parishes. Having said that, there is a need to build our and Caritas Tonga’s deeper understanding and engagement towards climate change issues. Therefore we are supporting a Caritas Tonga Climate Change Officer.
The main responsibilities of the officer include: visiting communities to gather data and knowledge of local and traditional methods for dealing with climate change; conducting training to raise awareness of climate change; researching methods of adaptation and mitigation and developing an action plan with the communities, local and national government authorities and civil society to respond to climate change and build resilience.
Read about a recent staff visit to Tonga here: