ADB and Partners Help Rebuild Ha’apai After Cyclone Ian

Damage in Ha’apai, Tonga after Cyclone Ian hit in January 2014. Photo: ADB

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Asian Development Bank and New Zealand are helping the Government of Tonga reconstruct and climate and disaster-proof the electricity network and school facilities that were damaged by Cyclone Ian in January 2014.

ADB has approved a $4.52 million grant from ADB’s Disaster Response Facility, the New Zealand Government is providing a grant of $4.27 million, and the Government of Tonga and Tonga Power Limited are contributing $1.67 million and $0.24 million equivalent.

"We deeply appreciate this assistance from ADB and New Zealand", said Minister Eke. "Tonga’s exposure to disasters brought on by climatic events such as tropical cyclones and storm surges have increased and so it is critical that our key economic and social infrastructure facilities are built to withstand these".

“The Cyclone Ian Recovery Project will not only help the government fully restore the electricity supply to Ha’apai and achieve a safer, clean learning environment for its students but make these facilities more resilient to natural disasters,” said Xianbin Yao, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department.

On 11 January 2014, the most powerful storm ever recorded in Tonga’s waters passed directly over the northeast Tongan islands of Ha’apai. The category 5 storm with winds more than 200 kilometers per hour affected 66% of Ha’apai’s population.

The tropical storm destroyed about 90% of power lines and power poles on Ha’apai leaving thousands of people without electricity. Sixteen of Ha’apai’s 31 primary and secondary schools were severely damaged or destroyed.

The main electricity network on Ha’apai will be upgraded to make it more resilient to extreme weather events and disasters which will ensure delivery of reliable power supply.

Most of the schools that were most damaged by the cyclone will be reconstructed and climate-and disaster-proofed by the project. This rehabilitation will allow classes to resume in a safe and conducive learning environment and will reduce the number of days that schools are closed during and after future disasters.

The project supports the government’s Tropical Cyclone Ian Response Plan.