$1m relief grant

AN additional $1 million, in the form of a grant, has been provided to the Tongan government by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund critical, life-saving services after Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The grant was funded by ADB’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, which provides quick-disbursing grants for the restoration of life-preserving services to countries affected by natural disasters.

The grant agreement was signed yesterday by ADB’s Pacific Department director general Carmela Locsin and ADB executive director Syurkani Ishak Kasim, acting on behalf of the Government of Tonga, at ADB’s headquarters in Manila.

The additional funds, which are expected to be disbursed within days, add to the $6 million initially provided by ADB to the Government of Tonga on February 16 under the Pacific Disaster Resilience Program (PDRP).

“Gita was one of the most powerful cyclones recorded in Tonga’s history. It directly affected almost 80 per cent of Tonga’s population and damaged or destroyed around two thousand homes,” Ms Locsin said.

“This grant will go towards restoring critical services, like water and electricity, clearing and disposing of rubble, and providing transitional shelter.”

Along with damage to property, including the destruction of Tonga’s historic Parliament House and other public buildings, an estimated 80 per cent of the electricity network in the Nuku’alofa area is damaged. Restoration of the electricity network could take more than seven weeks.

The PDRP was established in 2017 to provide financing for disaster recovery and reconstruction activities in Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

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