Japan’s Grant Aid for Tonga’s Early Warning System and Strengthening Disaster Communication Project

The Government of Tonga and JICA have signed a Grant Agreement of 2.8 billion Japanese Yen for the implementation of Nationwide Early Warning System and Strengthening Disaster Communication (NEWS) Project.

Prime Minister of Tonga and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva signed on behalf of the Government and Resident Representative, JICA Tonga Office Shinji Yoshiura signed on behalf of the Government of Japan.

The overall goal of this project is to save lives through the improvement of disaster information dissemination in the whole Kingdom of Tonga by installing an Emergency Radio System and an Early Warning Sound Alert System, by improving AM Radio broadcasting infrastructure and constructing Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s headquarter, aiming at shortening the alert transmission of tsunami evacuation from 90 minutes to eight minutes and increasing the number of beneficiaries from 13,000 to 67,000.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of MEIDECC in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC).

Mr. Yoshiura expressed his deep respect to the Government of Tonga to have decided to introduce this nationwide early warning system, which shows the commitment of the Government not to leave any person behind. “And it is a great privilege and pleasure for JICA to work together with Tonga Government for this noble mission.”

He also said that Tonga is known for the second most risky country in the world facing constant threats of earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones and other climatic related hazards. “Now, after the completion of this Project, by the proper operation and maintenance, and the better awareness and evacuation training, I believe that Tonga will become known for the most safely protected islands from natural disasters in the world.”

Minister for MEIDECC Poasi Tei thanked the Government of Japan on behalf of the Government of Tonga for their generous support in providing assistance under ODA Grant Aid Scheme to strengthen the capability of Tonga’s Early Warning Dissemination.

He noted that through this collaboration between the Government of Tonga and the Government of Japan, Tonga will ensure to save lives by promoting social and economic development through the improvement of disaster information dissemination in the Kingdom.

“The project is therefore entailed to improve communication infrastructure for the disaster by installing dedicated radio communication system, and early warning system and the renovating the national broadcasting equipment/facilities, thereby contributing to disaster and mitigating in Tonga.”

Tei added that through this project, the warning time of disaster will be reduced from 90-minutes to 8-minutes. With an increase in coverage from 30% to almost all of the total population. “Consequently, people will have time to prepare and evacuate to safer places and lives will be saved.’”

The grant agreement is equivalent to around $56 million pa’anga.