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Restoring the livelihoods of Tonga’s Niuatoputapu community

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Tonga Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Project
Tonga post-tsunami housing

Approval Date: 19 October 2010

Closing Date: 31 March 2013

Total Project Cost: US$5 million

Donors: World Bank (International Development Association)—US$5 million

Implementing Agency: Ministry of Finance and National Planning; Ministry of Works; Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources

     Construct cyclone-resistant homes for vulnerable populations. 
     Increase the Niuatoputapu community’s resilience to future disasters.
     Provide rainwater harvesting systems to lessen demand on the island’s limited fresh water supply.


    Niuatoputapu is one of the two inhabited islands in Tonga’s Niua group, located in the northern-most part of Tonga. The total population of about 1,100 lives in four villages, Hihifo, Vaipoa, Falehau and Tafahi Island. The island is remote and relatively isolated from the rest of Tonga. It is estimated that income levels in Niuatoputapu are among the lowest in Tonga. On September 30 2009, the Niua islands were struck by an earthquake of 8.3 magnitude whose epicentre was 190km to the north east. This was quickly followed by three tsunami waves with a maximum flow height of 16.9 metres and penetration of over 1km inland. As much as 46 percent of the island was inundated resulting in the deaths of nine people and damages estimated at about US$10 million. Of a total of about 255 private houses on the island, 85 were totally destroyed and 56 partially damaged by the tsunami. Most of the public utilities and government buildings were completely destroyed, along with the water and sanitation system. Earthquakes and earthquake-incurred tsunamis remain potential threats in the coming years.


    The Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Project will revive the living standards of the population affected by the tsunami through the reconstruction of residential houses. Newly relocated communities are still vulnerable as they seek to rebuild in the 2010 cyclone season and as such the reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses is a high priority. These cyclone-resistant houses will reduce the communities' vulnerability not only to tsunamis but also to future climatic hazards such as storm surges and heavy rainfall. Rainwater harvesting features on the house will also support resilience to drought and lessen the demand on the limited island water source, increasing its sustainability. The project consists of four components:

    Cyclone-Resistant Housing Construction
    The construction and supervision of 85 units of low-cost cyclone-resistant housing in Niuatoputapu to replace completely damaged houses, as well as associated consulting assignments and ancillary works (water and sanitation). These housing units will be built on land specifically allocated by the government for this purpose. The new residential houses will be built to cyclone category four standards and located on higher ground in areas close to original sites following close community consultation.

    Retrofitting of partially damaged housing and buildings
    Financing of construction materials and small works for the upgrading of about 60 partially damaged houses, small enterprises buildings and community halls.

    Strengthening of Disaster Risk Management
    Providing equipment for hazard and risk information assessment and institutional strengthening for the Ministry of Land Survey and Natural Resources. This will also involve financing the preparation of community disaster risk management plans in Niuatoputapu.

    Project Management
    This component will finance the Project Management Unit, which will carry out management and coordination of project activities, financial management and accounting, procurement, monitoring and reporting.


    The project will support tsunami-affected communities on the island of Niuatoputapu.


     Project Details
     Download Project Flier (391kb pdf)


    World Bank Task Team Leader

    Demetrios Papathanasiou
    Senior Infrastructure Specialist