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Nuku’alofa – Aufust 18, 2021: 11.55am (Nuku’alofa Times): The people of Niuafo’ou will have better rainwater supplies thanks to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), who is co-funding the Niuafo’ou Water Supply Improvements Project, alongside the Government of Tonga and The Tindall Foundation.

The project aims to improve rainwater harvesting by increasing Niuafo’ou’s catchment and storage for households and communities.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Tonga Tiffany Babington said the project will help the vulnerable communities.

“The project will help reduce the risk of water scarcity in vulnerable communities. It also strengthens the partnership between New Zealand and Tonga on climate change resilience and adaptation,” she said.

MFAT has provided a grant contribution of approximately TOP$790,000 (NZ$500,000) to the Government of Tonga for the Niuafo’ou Water Supply Improvement Project. Tonga’s Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) is the implementing agency and will work closely with villages on Niuafo’ou to install 63 13,000 litre water tanks and provide community management and maintenance training and support.

Hon. Poasi Tei, Minister for MEIDECC, on behalf of the Government of Tonga, thanked the New Zealand government.

“We gratefully acknowledge the support from the Government of New Zealand and Tindall Foundation to people of Niuafo’ou,” he said.

“These people suffer from water shortages especially during drought periods. This support will ensure sustainable access of these people to sufficient, safe and good quality of water, building their resilience to future impacts of climate change.”

Tindall Foundation rep, Sir Stephen Tindall, said they were pleased to be helping out.

“We are pleased to work in partnership with MFAT to support this initiative to improve access to drinking water for the people of the remote Tongan Island of Niuafo’ou,” he said.

“The Tindall Foundation has contributed NZ$65,000 to this project in addition to MFAT’s NZ$500,000. We support, on a case-by-case basis, initiatives in the Eastern Pacific which promote more resilient communities and improve the livelihoods of families and this project is a good example of that.”

New Zealand’s contribution also supports the establishment of a Niuafo’ou Water Committee to provide appropriate implementation oversight, local ownership of the new infrastructure and arrangements for ongoing maintenance and repairs.

Niuafo’ou is Tonga’s most northern island, situated 574 kilometres north of Tongatapu.

High Commissioner Tiffany Babington visited Niuafo’ou, with Paula Ma’u, Chief Executive Officer of MEIDECC, for the first time on August 16 to launch the project.

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