Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)1.20 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.1.70 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.1.00 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.1.00 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.1.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
CrisisInSIght: Global Risk Analysis
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted in the Pacific Ocean on 15 January, triggering a tsunami measuring up to 80cm that flooded Tonga island. The eruption sent out volcanic ash, steam, and gas, rising approximately 18km above the volcano and covering parts of the country with ash and smoke. The most affected area is Tongatapu, the main island. As at 30 January, three fatalities and several injuries are confirmed, in addition to around 290 houses damaged or affected. ?
It is estimated that 80% of the population (up to 84,000 people, including 28,000 children) was affected by the eruption. More than 1500 people are displaced and staying in private cars, houses of friends or family, or evacuation centres. The most urgent need across the island is clean drinking water, as water supplies have been disrupted and contaminated by layers of volcanic ash and salt water. Other needs include food, shelter, WASH, and health.?
Conducting humanitarian assessments is difficult because all communication lines in the country have been disrupted, and the most affected areas are inaccessible following the tsunami. Phone connections and electricity were down between 15–16 January, and communication with the island remains difficult. Access to the island through flights is on hold because of ash clouds covering the airport.?
No recent significant humanitarian developments. The crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.
WASH: Around 50,000 people need access to safe drinking water. Water sources in Tonga have been contaminated by volcanic ash, which can contain heavy metals like copper, cadmium, and arsenic. Sea water that has landed on the island after the tsunami also disrupted water supplies. Mobile water treatment facilities are needed to provide safe drinking water for households.?
Food and Livelihoods: An estimated 60,000 people have been affected by damage to crops, livestock, and fisheries. Local fresh fish is among the main sources of food for households in Tonga. About 200 boats, which are important for fishing and generating income, were damaged. Food rations are one of the most urgent needs for households affected by the eruption and the tsunami.?
Shelter: The most shelter needs are reported in Mango and Fonoifua islands: all houses have been destroyed on Mango Island, and only two houses remained on Fonoifua. Temporary tarpaulin shelters are needed to host the affected households. Currently, most of the displaced people are staying with relatives, while others are in temporary shelters.?
Health: There are increasing health concerns, as affected people are likely exposed to breathing volcanic ash or drinking contaminated water. Tonga has been declared a COVID-19-free country, but there is a risk of spreading the virus with aid deliveries arriving from other countries.?
UPDATE FROM THE FEBRUARY 2022 RISK ANALYSIS
LOW RISK LEVEL
Continued COVID-19-related movement restrictions and extreme weather conditions during the cyclone season delay the recovery process from the tsunami and result in increased humanitarian needs
The risk has partially materialised. COVID-19 restrictions in Tonga have hindered recovery efforts after the volcanic eruption and tsunami, resulting in heightened humanitarian needs, although no extreme weather conditions, such as typhoons, have affected Tonga in the past six months. COVID-19 mitigation measures (the state of emergency ended on 26 September), including renewed lockdowns, have had a significant impact on the capacity of governmental and humanitarian organisations to distribute aid?. Organisations have been forced to scale back operations in terms of time and capacity and adopt contactless distributions during the restrictions?. Aid distribution to some outer islands has had to be conducted through air drops?. A 14-day quarantine period has been imposed on all people entering the country, and the number of available flights has been reduced?. The volcanic eruption on 15 January destroyed satellite connectivity and undersea communications. Rebuilding communications has been challenging, as equipment brought to Tonga has had to undergo stringent COVID-19-mitigation protocols?. Other COVID-19-related restrictions, such as limitations on inter-island travel, have contributed to food shortages. The restrictions have also affected people with disabilities and children; for one, the COVID-19 outbreak has temporarily closed Tonga Red Cross Society’s school for children with disabilities?. Natural disasters in 2022, mainly the volcanic eruption and sub - sequent tsunamis, and the lockdown have led to around 32,000 schoolchildren losing more than 500 hours’ worth of learning?.
Read the February 2022 Risk Analysis here.