Tonga is a tropical group of islands located in the South Pacific. Tonga is rich with a vibrant culture and population and the islands are known for their tropical beauty. While the lives of Tongans have vastly improved in recent years, there is still much that can be done. These 10 facts about living conditions in Tonga showcase both the struggles that Tongans face on a daily basis as well as the positive aspects of life in the country.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tonga

  1. Water quality is an issue – The majority of Tonga’s freshwater supply is in the form of groundwater, collected either through rainwater harvesting or limestone extraction. Because Tonga has no coordinated, centralized system for caring for waste, individuals and communities manage wastewater on-site. This presents difficulties in monitoring water quality and sanitation, making Tongans susceptible to parasites and waterborne diseases.
  2. Noncommunicable diseases are quite common among residents – Tonga used to face challenges with deaths caused by infectious diseases, but now the country is facing a new primary cause of death: non-communicable diseases. According to a 2008 report, non-communicable diseases accounted for more than 70 percent of deaths in Tonga during that year. These diseases include respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. However, the Tongan Government has begun to take action against this growing problem and recently launched the Tongan National Non-Communicable Disease Strategy, which sets out to reduce the number of individuals in Tonga with non-communicable diseases.
  3. Tongans have excellent access to healthcare and medicine – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 100 percent of the population has access to health care and medicine. However, the quality and supply of these hospitals and medicines can be an issue in some of the more remote areas of the country, such as in the outer islands.
  4. Tonga has a small, but open, island economy – The country largely exports agricultural goods and fish. These items make up close to 80 percent of Tonga’s total exports. Tonga’s economy is also based around tourism, although this industry has faltered in recent years following the global economic crisis of 2008.
  5. Early education in Tonga is a priorityAlmost 95 percent of the resident population with children between the ages of 6 and 14 are enrolled in school. Once children reach the age of 15, however, school attendance decreases. Overall, almost 30 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 19 do not attend school. Along with this, female school attendance is generally higher than males. This gap only increases in secondary school, where female enrollment is 67.4 percent and male enrollment is only 54 percent. It has often been reported that, as they grow older, many boys who fail their exams have chosen to quit school altogether and help their families by working.
  6. Housing can be a problem – This can be largely attributed to the wet, tropical climate and severe weather found in the South Pacific region. A recent study found that one of the most prevalent types of structural damage to homes in urban parts of Tonga was water damage, which was characterized by mold growing predominantly in the sleeping and cooking areas of the homes. Furthermore, many homes are often destroyed because of the harsh weather. For example, in 2018, Tropical Cyclone Gita hit various parts of Tonga, affecting roughly 70 percent of the population and completely destroying over 1,000 homes.
  7. Child marriage is common – Between 2015 and 2017, more than 100 child marriages took place in Tonga. These marriages were able to take place because of specific sections from Tonga’s Births, Deaths and Marriage Registration Act of 1926 that allow children between the ages of 15 and 17 to be married if there is parental approval. However, in many of these situations, young girls are pressured into marriage due to parental desires or teen pregnancy. To help combat this, a campaign was launched in 2017 called “Let Girls be Girls!” The campaign, which is supported by the Tongan Ministry of Justice, hopes to repeal the law that currently allows child marriage in Tonga.
  8. Close to 60 percent of Tongans are dependent solely on agriculture for food – Though acreage for agricultural goods is increasing, production and quality is decreasing due to unsustainable agricultural practices, pests, diseases and increasing urbanization. Attempts have been made in the past to try and stabilize food security, but only recently have any methods proven effective. In 2015 the Tonga Framework for Action on Food Security (TFAFS) was developed to ensure food security as a top priority. TFAFS focuses on combining a variety of methods to address food security, focusing on both immediate and long-term solutions.
  9. About 25 percent of households in Tonga have incomes that are below the poverty line88 percent of Tonga’s population live in rural areas of the country, which experience the highest rates of poverty and harshest living conditions. The population in these rural areas has been slowly declining, however, and is expected to drop another 7 percent in the next 30 years. However, this decline may present some problems for the Tongan agricultural industry, which may face labor shortages.
  10. Tonga has a relatively young population – The median age in Tonga is only 23 years old, and more than one-third of the population is 14 or younger. Additionally, just over 6 percent of the population is over the age of 65. However, life expectancy is slowly increasing in Tonga, and as of 2017, the average life expectancy had risen to 73 years old.

These 10 facts about living conditions in Tonga demonstrate the progress that the country has made in improving the lives of its people. Though there is still much work to be done, Tonga is working hard to become a strong, self-reliant nation.

– Melissa Quist
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Education in Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga is located in the Pacific Ocean and has a population of approximately 109,008. Despite its small size, the country has made continuous improvements to its educational system. Keep reading to learn the top eight facts about education in Tonga.

8 Facts About Education in Tonga

  1. A Colonial Past – The school system that currently exists in Tonga was first established by Wesleyan missionaries in 1826. The primary language of the country is Tongan, a dialect of Polynesian, but English is also spoken as a secondary language and is taught as such in schools.
  2. Compulsory Education – Since 1876, the first eight years of education in Tonga has been compulsory for all Tongan children beginning at age 6. Tonga has divided its education system to include six years at the primary level, three at the junior and three at the senior secondary level.
  3. Free Education – Primary and secondary schools for students from ages 6 to 14 attend government-sponsored schools for free.  In 2004, 3.91 percent of Tonga’s GDP was allotted to spending on education in Tonga. This is a decrease from 5.59 percent in 1998.
  4. High Literacy Rates – The efforts of the Tongan government to create a strong base of literacy within the country has been widely successful. In 1996, the adult literacy rate of Tonga was 98.5 percent. That number has now risen to 99.0 percent in 2018, making Tonga one of the leaders of adult literacy of the nations in the Pacific.
  5. Girls’ Education – In 2015, girls were enrolled at higher rates than boys at all three levels of education. Enrollment in primary school was at 94 percent for girls and 92 percent for boys in 2015. This number dropped roughly 10 percentage points for each gender going into lower secondary schools.
  6. Ministry of Education – The Ministry of Education works to create and maintain a system of strong education in Tonga. The Ministry manages all of the government schools in the country at all education levels and ensures that the private schools within the country adhere to the national standards of education. There are two main exams that the Ministry of Education administers to all students. The first is the Tonga School Certificate. This exam is taken by students at the end of their fifth year while they are in secondary school. The second major state exam is the Pacific Senior Secondary Certificate, which is taken by students at the end of secondary schooling. Both exams serve as a measure of the thoroughness of a student’s education. The exams are administered in English, though they do emphasize knowledge of Tongan culture.
  7. Brain Drain – Following the conclusion of their secondary school education, many young scholars from Tonga seek their tertiary education abroad at universities in Australia or New Zealand. Upon completion of their degrees at university, most Tongan scholars remain in Australia or New Zealand to live and work and do not return to their homes in Tonga. In 2018, approximately 25 percent of those who furthered their education within Tonga now exist below the poverty line.
  8. Plan for Educational Improvement – Beginning in 2003, Tonga began a project for educational reform that focuses on providing access to a strong education for all Tongans. The Tonga Education Support Program (TESP) has two tiers. TESP I aims to improve equitable access to education up to Year 8, to improve education past primary school and to improve the administration of Tongan schools. TESP II aims to maximize the amount of learning that students can find within Tongan schools, to increase the teaching abilities of teachers and to improve educational facilities. The Tongan government has received financial contributions from Australia and New Zealand to do so.

Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Reasons for School Dropouts in Tonga
Tonga, a Polynesian country and archipelago comprising of total 169 islands (36 inhabited) has achieved tremendous progress in improving the nation’s primary school enrollment. Although these rates are high, the school completion rates continue to decrease. About 3,000 Tongan students drop out of secondary school each year. In the text below, the top five reasons for school dropouts in Tonga are presented.

Top Five Reasons for School Dropouts in Tonga

  1. Due to tight household budgets, Tongan youths are now looking to get into the workforce as soon as possible. Dropping out of school and entering the workforce is deemed necessary when household funds are low because income is needed in order to survive. It was reported that 25 percent of Tongan households live under the poverty line, not having enough money to provide for basic needs. Male dropout rates are higher compared to female dropout rates. It is important to note that there is a higher percentage of men that participate in the workforce compared to women.
  2. About 88 percent of Tongans live in rural areas, therefore, Tonga’s remote location is driving Tongan youths to search for employment opportunities in other countries such as New Zealand and Australia. Dropping out of school to look for employment opportunities in different countries is more appealing than attending and graduating from school because graduating doesn’t necessarily guarantee employment in Tonga. Tonga is currently struggling to keep up with the high demand for jobs.
  3. Religion plays a huge role in many Tongan households and it is an important cultural factor that can affect whether or not Tongan youths continue their education. In many Tongan households, most of their money is spent on personal expenses, emergencies, church donations and education. Church donations were the second most popular use of mobile money transfers and remittances. Education tends to come in last on that list due to the importance of necessities and their devotion to the church. Since household budgets are tight, there may not be enough income or it is not seen as a top priority for Tongan youths to continue their education.
  4. The lack of diverse and targeted vocational training programs in Tonga is driving Tongan youth to look for employment and educational opportunities elsewhere. Many Tongan youths become disinterested and drop out of school because they are seeking vocational programs that will equip them with skills that will help them into the workforce. Unfortunately, Tonga is not yet able to offer Tongan youths these options.
  5. About 70 percent of Tongan adults reported receiving remittances from migrant family members and relatives. Remittances have become a very common source of income for many Tongan households. Tongan youths see the importance and dependency of remittances in their households, therefore, it is seen as one of the only options to provide for their families. This also pushes Tongan youths to drop out of school.

Work of Nongovernmental Organizations

Various nongovernmental organizations have been working on providing employment and education opportunities for Tongan youths. The Skills Employment for Tongans Project aims to help the Tongan government to create a cash transfer program to help Tongan households with their tight household budgets. It also will provide technical and vocational education training courses to help Tongan youths establish skills that will allow them to become employable in Tonga and in other countries.

The Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Project (PEARL). The goals of this organization are to help children gain skills that will prepare them for school and help them learn to read and write for their first years of primary school. Preparing Tongan children at an early age will help implement the idea that education is important.

These top five reasons for school dropouts in Tonga are still problems that the nation of Tonga is facing, but the Tongan government is getting help from various nongovernmental organizations in trying to keep up with the high demand for employment and educational opportunities. It is a difficult task, but with the joint effort of government and NGOs, as well as other countries, this can be achieved.

– Jocelyn Aguilar

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Tonga
By looking at Tonga and the United States on a map, it would seem the two countries share very little in common. However, despite their apparent differences, the U.S. and Tonga share a deep relationship and align closely with a number of important global issues.

U.S. and Tonga Relations

Evidence of this relationship is shown through U.S. foreign aid to Tonga, aid which directly and indirectly comes back to benefit the U.S. This aid takes various forms, including grants from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to help Tonga recover from natural disasters and grants from USAID to support climate proofing the vulnerable island country.

Tonga also receives Foreign Military Financing, providing the opportunity for Tongan officers to come to the U.S. for training and education, fostering a close relationship between U.S. and Tongan armed forces. The U.S. also provides $21 million per year to Pacific island countries, including Tonga, in accordance to the Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which gives U.S. fishing vessels access to Pacific island fisheries.

Economy

In purely economic terms, the benefit is relatively minimal. Although the U.S. is one of Tonga’s primary trade partners and runs a trade surplus with the island country, the surplus is only about $11 million annually. However, the trade surplus and role of the U.S. as a primary trading partner with Tonga does indicate that U.S. foreign aid to Tonga has played a part in establishing closer economic ties between the two countries.

Stability

The biggest way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Tonga is stability, both in the Pacific region and the world. When foreign aid is injected into a country to help it recover from a disaster, or to help it become more self-sufficient, everybody wins. In such a case, foreign aid has a stabilizing effect, preventing large migrations, saving lives and helping to prevent future disasters. The result, besides the obvious humanitarian benefit and lives saved, is the stabilization of a volatile region and the fostering of a close ongoing relationship looking towards the future between the recipient and the donor of aid. In this case, the U.S. benefits greatly from a stable and closely aligned Tonga for various reasons. On one hand, friendly relations with Tonga and the U.S. allows for mutually beneficial cooperation between both countries, such as access to Tongan tuna fisheries by U.S. fishing vessels.

Friendly Relations

Friendly relations between the U.S. and Tonga, as facilitated by U.S. foreign aid to Tonga, also benefit the U.S. by giving it a close ally in the Pacific, a highly important geopolitical area. The importance of Tonga as a U.S. ally was recently reinforced during the RIMPAC military exercises in the Pacific. Among 26 nations to join the exercise, Tonga was the only country from the Pacific islands to participate. The inclusion of Tonga in such an important exercise indicates its importance to the U.S., while also demonstrating how U.S. foreign aid has brought the two nations together.

The most important takeaway from analyzing the relationship between the U.S. and Tonga is that foreign aid from the U.S. has been mutually beneficial. Because of U.S. support, Tonga has been able to recover faster from natural disasters and is working with the U.S. in preventing such disasters in the future. In return, the U.S. has gained a valuable ally in the Pacific.

– Taylor Pace
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Tonga
Located off the coast of Australia and New Zealand, Tonga is part of a 170-island archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The country itself is immersed in a rich culture that is founded on a matriarchal society, bringing benefits to girl’s education in Tonga. The eldest women, usually called “aunties,” have shared power regarding family affairs, including their own choice in marriage. This matriarchal-based society stems from the fact that Tonga’s royal line is passed down through women rather than men.

Positive Aspects of Girls’ Education in Tonga

Although women in Tonga play a secondary role in their day-to-day society, girls’ education in Tonga is anything but secondary. Girls are exposed to education and modern technology from an early age. All children, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to take part in playgroups prior to preschool. The groups are organized by the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Project (PEARL), whose main goal is to help children learn to read and write before beginning school, as well as help develop skills important to their education. The playgroups are implemented by the community and the World Bank.

Programs like PEARL have had a positive effect on the literacy rate of Tonga, which currently stands at over 95 percent. Education in Tonga is mandatory and free for children ages 6 to 14. Furthering girls’ education in Tonga beyond the age of 14 is not determined by gender, but by financial resources. Queen Salote, who ruled Tonga from 1918 until 1965 and was educated herself, promoted the importance of girl’s education. She helped by paying for school funds during difficult financial times and established a group that advocated education for women. 

Challenges to Girls’ Education

Despite the matriarchal-based society and the progress that has been made, girls’ education in Tonga still faces challenges. Women in the country cannot own land and have to dress modestly. In addition, girls’ education in Tonga was recently affected by a law issued by the Education Minister, Penisimani Fifita, banning girls from participating in rugby and boxing at public schools.

Fifita stated that it was against Tonga’s culture and tradition for girls to play rugby. However, the state later issued a statement saying that the ban was imposed to give students more time for school. Fehoko Tu’ivai, the girl’s rugby head coach at Tonga High School and President of the Tonga Women’s Rugby Association, stated, “Rugby is one of the oldest sports in Tonga. We have realized that we Tongans were born to be great sportsmen and women, especially in rugby.” 

The ban on girls’ ability to play sports because of tradition deprives them of many opportunities. Two-time Olympian champion in shot put, Valerie Adams, is half-Tongan. She expressed the importance of keeping girls in rugby on social media, saying, “Tongan women must be free to choose their destiny, and not be held back by misguided and stubborn misinterpretation.” Tongans and people residing in New Zealand continue to express their disagreement and disappointment with the female-undermining bill.

Looking to the Future

Despite the setbacks, girls’ education in Tonga is supported by a strong base of literacy-based programs like PEARL and has made substantial progress. If this progress continues, the future is bright for women in Tonga. 

– Alyssa Hannam
Photo: Flickr

Cyclone Gita in TongaTonga, or the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian archipelago of 170 islands of which 36 are inhabited. With a population of 109,008 people, Tongans rely heavily on each other and the little they have to survive.

As of 2016, 22.5 percent of the population lived at, or below, the poverty line. In fact, 8,456 people lived off of $3.10 or less a day, and 1,125 people of that lived off of $1.90 a day. According to Pacific Islands Report, Tonga suffers from poverty because Tongans need to depend on overseas trades, tourism, aid donors and private sectors to bring money into their economy. At the same time, the nation lacks access to basic living essentials and services, and face poor climate.

The Impact of Cyclone Gita in Tonga

On February 3, 2018, Tongans were hit with a tropical cyclone named Cyclone Gita — the most impactful tropical cyclone to hit Tonga in recorded history. After three long weeks, Gita heavily affected 70 percent, or 50,000 people — one-third of them being children. While only two people died from this tragedy, hundreds of homes, schools, buildings, churches and agricultural land were destroyed.

Specifically, 171 homes were destroyed, more than 1,131 homes were damaged, about 5,700 people sought shelters, 129 classrooms in 83 schools were damaged (leaving 25,000 students affected and a total of 35,000 children affected) and $152 million worth of damage hit agricultural land.

Cyclone Gita put Tongans at more of a risk as this population mainly depends on fishing and agriculture for an income. Nearly 36 percent of Tonga is agricultural land and agriculture accounts for 30 percent of the GDP.

Also, 98 percent of students were left without a school. Instead of working in the fields for income or going to school, Tongans had to refocus their attention on rebuilding their country.

How the U.S. Helped People Affected by Cyclone Gita in Tonga

In 1967, the U.S. brought the U.S. Peace Corps to Tonga to work and build a relationship with the Tongans. In 1970, the U.S. and Tonga began a bilateral relationship after the U.S. accredited Kevin Franzheim II, the U.S. Ambassador, to New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Since then, the U.S. and Tonga have held a strong relationship with each other through trades and donations. In February, USAID donated $100,000 to assist the people affected by Cyclone Gita in Tonga; every year, the U.S. provides $21 million to the Pacific Island funds.

The World Bank also provided $14.95 million to the Pacific Resilience Program, a program dedicated to strengthening awareness and preparedness for natural disasters.

Lasse Melgaard, Resident Representative from the South Pacific, said funds to the Pacific Resilience Program will go towards rebuilding 30 schools, which will put 9,000 students into a safer-built school.

Steady Support & Recovery

Other countries including New Zealand, India, Asia and Australia have also funded Tonga in relief efforts by donating money and humanitarian supplies. Although the people of Tonga still struggle to put families back into homes and children into school, the Tongan people continue to help each other rebuild their homes from the ground up. The unfortunate news is that it is expected to take months for Tonga to recover, but the good news is that there is more than enough helping hands to speed up the process.

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

 Education in Tonga

After Cyclone Gita devastated the islands of Tonga, more than 14,000 children may return to their education thanks to an efficient relief plan executed by UNICEF and several of its partner organizations.

UNICEF worked with the New Zealand Defense Force to provide aid for the victims of the cyclone, totaling about 25,000 students, according to a Tonga government assessment. A large portion of the aid was aimed at maintaining a level of education in Tonga after the cyclone’s path of destruction.

Relief came in the form of tents to serve as classrooms after an estimated 83 schools were damaged by the storm, according to Radio New Zealand. The two organizations also shipped supplies such as backpacks and the innovative school-in-a-box. The box includes pencils, scissors, paper, textbooks, chalk and a chalkboard, which is also used as the box’s lid.

In a podcast interview with ABC News, a UNICEF director explained the organization’s goal in Tonga by using temporary learning centers. “It will allow them to process what has happened while moving on with their lives as quickly as possible,” the UNICEF director said.

The cyclone, according to NewScientist, was the most powerful that Tonga has seen in more than 60 years, with winds reaching more than 142 mph. The damage to infrastructure did not end with schools, however. Nearly 1,400 homes were destroyed by Cyclone Gita, leaving many without shelter.

According to UNICEF Pacific on Twitter, the project also received assistance from the French Navy, who shipped some of the relief kits and helped progress education in Tonga.

While the government is still taking strides to improve infrastructure quality, the combined and coordinated effort of UNICEF and the New Zealand Defense Force successfully improved conditions for the affected children. Finding an efficient strategy to provide basic education, such as sending the school-in-a-box, allowed for high success rates in Tonga.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in TongaTonga is an archipelago of more than 170 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. This Polynesian country, formerly known as the Friendly Islands, relies on agriculture, fishing and remittances from Tongans living abroad, many of them in New Zealand. Unemployment is high, while the main source of income is in the developing tourist industry.

The island’s small size and geographical isolation result in limited internal, regional and international transport and communication linkage. With few natural responses and vulnerability to external economic shocks, these areas are crucial to Tonga’s economic development and social well-being. Its roughly 105,000 people face decaying infrastructure in Tonga, which when combined with financial constraints poses a challenge of meeting domestic and international transport safety security requirements.

 

The Ministry of Infrastructure

The Ministry of Infrastructure was created to assist the government with improving infrastructure in Tonga. It began as the Ministry of Transport, whose goal to improve compliance of the civil aviation and maritime entities with international safety and security standards. It was then merged with the Ministry of Works to form the Ministry of Infrastructure. So far, the Ministry of Infrastructure’s successes have included:

  • The creation of a domestic road contracting industry for Tonga which employed 88 people, including 12 women, working on road maintenance throughout Tonga.
  • A total of 171 km of roads maintained or rehabilitated.
  • Improved safety standards for passenger vessels under an improved regulatory framework with the government of Tonga’s Marine and Ports Division.
  • Improved infrastructure in Tonga, including the fire station at the airport and an extension to the airport transit lounge.
  • The establishment of a Road Maintenance Fund to ensure sustainable financing of future investments.

 

Urban Development Sector Project

Another source of aid to infrastructure in Tonga is the Integrated Urban Development Sector Project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, who stated that rapid population growth has put pressure on the infrastructure in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. Along with the Australian government aid agency AusAID, this multi-million dollar project focused on six different components of Nuku’alofa’s urban services, including water supply, solid waste services and development of roads and drains. Its goal is also to raise awareness in the community about issues such as household management of solid waste and public health benefits for safe waste disposal. Since 2016, 30 kilometers of expressways, national highways, fully access-controlled roadways and provincial, district and rural road networks have been built or upgraded.

The improvement of infrastructure in Tonga will aid the country a great deal in its economic development. Infrastructure plays such a vital role in every nation and with the projects working hard to sustain Tonga, there is a chance for employment rates and incomes to rise.

– Kailey Brennan

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in TongaMore than 70 percent of Tonga’s population lives in rural areas with agriculture and fisheries as its main source of livelihood. The country’s predominant economic activity is agriculture, so establishing sustainable agriculture in Tonga is essential to its economy.

Of all the Pacific Island countries, Tonga has one of the highest rates of subsistence food production. The method is self-sufficient and farmers produce enough food for local consumption with a little surplus for trade. More than 95 percent of Tonga’s agriculturally active households engage in subsistence and semi-subsistence agriculture activity, and only five percent engage in commercial activities.

Small landholdings, typically eight acres or 3.24 hectares, enable sustainable agriculture in Tonga. Multi-crop systems based on root crops provide food security, employment and income.

Root crops constitute 50 percent of Tonga’s total exports, with half being taro. Approximately 60 percent of Tonga’s exports are destined for New Zealand.

Watermelon exports increased from 86 tons in 2010 to 271 tons in 2013. Tonga’s goal is to export 1,000 watermelons per year to New Zealand over the next three years; New Zealand imports 2,500 tons of watermelons annually. Other export destinations include Samoa and American Samoa.

Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests (MAFF) plans to improve sustainable agriculture in Tonga by implementing the Tonga Agriculture Sector Plan’s four programs:

  1. Climate Resilient Environment: Ensures that Tonga’s natural resources are preserved
  2. Enabling Environment: Focuses on improving Tonga’s environment for the agriculture sector’s operation
  3. Sustainable Livelihoods and Healthy Foods: Improves farmers, knowledge, marketing techniques and technologies for sustainable and diverse agriculture
  4. Sustainable Growth and Foreign Exchange Earnings: Increases exports and enhances import replacements

MAFF’s main purposes are to:

  • Provide policy advice to the Tongan government on maintaining a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector
  • Provide policy advice on achieving social, economic and environmental benefits from limited natural resources
  • Administer government programs and legislation to support these objectives
  • Regulate imports to ensure Tonga is safeguarded against exotic threats
  • Regulate exports to satisfy importing country requirements

The Tongan government is focused on establishing a secure agricultural sector plan that promotes sustainable agriculture in Tonga. With the majority of Tongans reliant on agriculture, successful implementation of the Sector Plan is vital to the population.

– Carolyn Gibson
Photo: Flickr

5 Development Projects in Tonga

Tonga is a country comprised of 170 islands in the South Pacific, located close to Fiji and American Samoa. The island nation has a relatively high unemployment rate. This, coupled with an economy largely dependent on agricultural means of making money, has led to the creation of various development projects in Tonga. In recent years, these projects have improved stability in different aspects of the country.

Education

In 2012, the Peace Corps began a development project in Tonga designed to teach English as a foreign language. Aside from teaching English, the project’s larger goals are to improve the Tongan education system through the utilization of more computers and other technology. It also assists Tongan teachers in discovering new methods of teaching that are more student-centred. In addition, the project focuses on helping students develop healthy lifestyle habits. These lifestyle lessons are taught as part of the English language curriculum.

Growth Development

One of the more recent development projects in Tonga began in April 2017. The World Bank approved $5 million for policy reforms in the island nation. According to a press release on the World Bank website, these reforms aim to “improve the management of public finances, boost government accountability and encourage a more dynamic and inclusive economy.”

Climate Change

In 2013, the Asian Development Bank launched the Climate Resilience Sector Project in Tonga. This projects helps strengthen the country in the face of increasingly dangerous threats from climate change. The project finances low cost solutions which are executed at the local community level. Aside from this, the Asian Development Bank is also working with the Tongan government to create more renewable energy. By 2020, Tonga hopes to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

Environmental Protection

In July 2014, the United Nations Development Programme’s Pacific Office in Fiji created a project with the intention of protecting the ecosystem of the Fanga’uta Lagoon Catchment on Tongatapu Island. The project’s three main goals are to improve management of the lagoon, introduce an environmental management plan and educate local communities and national stakeholders about the role of the lagoon ecosystem and the benefits of protecting it.

Improved Healthcare System

The Australia-Tonga Aid Partnership, created in 2016, is a project where the Australian government provides funding each year to assist development projects in Tonga. Just last year, Tonga received around $30.4 million in aid from Australia. In particular, one of the projects that utilizes this funding is the Tonga Health System Support Program.

Phase One of the program began in 2009. Following this, Phase Two of the program started in March 2015. The objectives of the program are to stop the progression of noncommunicable diseases, generally advance health care services across the nation, provide enhanced mental health services, improve gender equality and provide access to universal health care.

Tonga has begun to experience a flourishing tourism industry that is becoming a main source of income for the nation. As a result of these five development projects in Tonga, the country can maintain economic, environmental and social stability as it continues to progress.

The support from these organizations will help Tonga combat increasing environmental risks that the country will face from climate change. Through these programs, Tonga will only continue to grow and further advance their infrastructure.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr