Tonga is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 169 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. The country has been ruled by a direct line of royalty since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and is the only nation in the region to maintain its monarchy despite contact with the British. Tonga came under British protection in 1900 and in 1970, it became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, withdrawing from British protection. Tonga had its first vote for a popularly elected parliament in November 2010, a political reform that reduced the monarchy to a largely ceremonial role. Tonga is increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters due to intensifying climate patterns in the Pacific Islands.
Act for Peace has supported a Disaster Risk Reduction project that has been rolled out in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. One of the goals of this program was to develop plans for extreme weather events in order to minimise destruction and loss of life, while simultaneously teaching villages how to plan for and find solutions to the issues that they face. When people can learn the process of community problem solving, they can better adjust to risky situations and increase the stability of their situation. By increasing leadership in all sectors of society, including women and youth, communities will be able to deal with structural, economic and social barriers to development and help one another toward success.
This project involved educating and developing vulnerable communities on these Pacific Islands so that they are better equipped to cope with natural disasters. Working with community volunteers, this project aimed to encourage village communities to take control of their situation by planning how to respond to a disaster, building on their existing capacities and developing a positive plan for the future that will help save lives. Since each village is uniquely different with different challenges, the project focused on one village at a time to address individual issues. Field Project Officers spent up to 10 days in each village during the life of the project (four years).
6,240 individuals were be given this training and 468 villages benefitted from this project.. 3,000 school children were also provided with education materials and given training so they can become future advocates for reducing disasters due to intensifying climate patterns in the Pacific Islands.