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.
Making landfall on 12 February 2018, Cyclone Gita caused substantial damage to homes, livelihoods, places of refuge, and places of prayer in Tonga. Gita was a category 4 tropical storm. Winds raged between 110 and 275 kmph causing waves over 11 metres tall.
We have a long standing relationship with Caritas Tonga who were able to distribute our pre-positioned emergency supplies within 24hrs of Cyclone Gita's destruction. Such supplies include tarpaulins for shelter, hygeine kits, first aid kits, and even kitchen sets. Part of our efforts have been connecting with teams on the ground to gather information on the needs of communities.
Promoting Micro-enterprise and Socio-Economic Development
This project has been successful in helping people increase their family incomes by working in small groups of 8 or more members. Caritas provides funds for low-interest loans that are used as ‘start-up capital’ for small business ventures.
Business activities include: tapa cloth making, pig farming, mat weaving, kava planting, mulberry cultivation, chicken raising, sewing, peanut farming, yam planting and fishing.
In total, over NZ$200,000 has been distributed as loans to these groups by Caritas Tonga, who administer the project. Loans are repaid in monthly instalments when community-based officers visit each loan group, and these funds are then ‘recycled’ to provide loans to other groups.
Climate Change Officer Project
Caritas continues to support a Climate Change Officer at Caritas Tonga whose responsibilities include: gathering local and traditional knowledge about climate resilience; researching other methods of climate change adaptation in the Pacific; raising public awareness of the effects of climate change; and working with government, churches and communities to develop effective action plans.
Caritas Tonga's Amelia Ma'afu was a co-author of our 2016 Sate of the Environment in Oceania Report. She also attended the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru where she was able to use the Caritas report to highlight environmental concerns across Oceania.