New $1.5M social scheme to help Tonga tsunami-affected families

Tonga volcano eruption
Ashfall in Tonga following the volcanic eruption. Photos: NZ Defence Force

The Tonga Government will distribute Humanitarian Cash Transfers of $1.5 million pa’anga (US$614,000), to support 3,000 beneficiaries from affected areas in Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai, to recover from the impacts of the recent natural disasters.

The new social protection initiative was launched by UNICEF and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 18 October. 

They said this aims to help the most vulnerable families and their children to access critical goods and essential services, while strengthening the existing national shock responsive social protection system.

Minister for Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea thanked UNICEF for supporting the Government of Tonga with social protection program in response to the natural disasters.

He said it will provide much needed financial assistance to those vulnerable communities, especially the affected families and people with disabilities in accessing basic goods and services.

“This assistance compliments recovery efforts of the Government of Tonga from the disaster as well as from the impacts of COVID-19. Humanitarian Cash Transfers intervention will also contribute towards long term vision of building a resilient inclusive shock responsive social protection system in Tonga to response to the future shocks and natural disasters.”

They said the Humanitarian Cash Transfers will enable the Ministry of Internal Affairs and UNICEF to support over 3,000 beneficiaries and their children, with priority given to tsunami affected areas in Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai.

The cash transfers will be distributed to 750 affected households, and 2,467 people with disabilities, including 273 children with disabilities. Each beneficiary will receive two rounds of 200 pa’anga, while children with disabilities will receive 300 pa’anga.

UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch said humanitarian Cash Transfers such as these provide crucial support to the people who need it the most.

“Instead of turning to negative coping strategies, thousands of vulnerable children and their families will now have the means to access the basic services and goods that they need.” The Humanitarian Cash Transfers initiative is supported by the Australian Committee for UNICEF, the United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF and the United States Fund for UNICEF

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