Rebuilding a stronger Ha’apai

CYCLONE Ian, the most powerful storm ever recorded in Tonga, struck the Ha’apai Islands on January 02, 2014, destroying or severely damaging nearly a thousand houses and public buildings. World Bank funding of USD6.5 million was provided to support the reconstruction process but more than a year after the cyclone, land ownership issues and confusion about the process for assessing household support, meant that many families were still living in tents as they waited for new houses to be built.

The World Bank and the Government of Tonga have been working with the Ha’apai community to understand how key lessons from the reconstruction process can help the country become more resilient in the face of climate change and the increasingly powerful cyclones that are likely to strike in the future. The Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, the Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, likens climate resilience to being a good rugby team that can learn from its mistakes.

“When you play against another team you need to learn about your opposition, in this case it’s climate change. So when you’re playing against the other team you learn how to side-step certain things therefore reducing the risk. To me that captures what resilience is all about,” he says.

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