Tonga Cyclone Ron Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 27 Jan 1998
Ref: DHAGVA - 98/0145

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Situation and Needs

1. The OCHA/DHA South Pacific Programme Office (SPPO) located in Suva, Fiji, reports that during the month of January, three tropical cyclones affected a large part of the South Pacific. Miraculously only a few islands were directly affected.

2. On Wednesday morning, 7 January 1998, Tropical Cyclone Ron struck Tonga. Affected were the northern islands of Niuafoou, Niuatoputapu and Tafahi -collectively known as the Niuas. In consequence, a survey team was sent to the Niuas to assess the damage and the impact of the cyclone on the inhabitants.

3. According to the report provided by the survey team, severe damage to residential houses has left 99 families (74 in Niuafoou, 18 in Niuatoputapu and 7 in Tafahi) in urgent need of temporary housing and some 43 families in need of tarpaulins to repair partial damages. Destruction of sanitation systems has significantly increased the danger of an outbreak of infectious diseases. Approximately 20 to 30 per-cent of the water tanks and 95 per-cent of the catchment covers have been damaged.

4. Extensive damage was caused to agriculture and vegetation of Niuafoou, Niuatoputapu and Tafahi by destructive wind. Fruit trees and breadfruit trees, which were at harvesting stage, were all destroyed. All of the cassava and banana family trees and some of the young root crops, such as yarn, taro, kumara and kape were seriously damaged. There is urgent need for food aid as the present food supplies will only be sufficient for 2 to 3 weeks. Replanting programmes would take up to 6-8 months.

National Response

5. The Government of Tonga (National Disaster Management Office/Ministry of Works) has carried out an assessment in the affected regions and drawn up a priority plan for relief and rehabilitation.

6. Priority one activities address the delivery of tents, tarpaulins, blankets and second hand clothing for families requiring urgent temporary housing. Reconstruction of water catchments to harness water, planting materials, chemicals, supplies and equipment, as well as repair of toilets would also be needed.

7. Priority two activities address mainly the repair and reconstruction of houses, repair to roads, replanting and food supply over a longer period of time.

8. On 23 January, the Acting Prime Minister of Tonga has requested international assistance. Food, water and temporary shelter, as well as transportation costs are identified as major items/services needed.

International Response

9. OCHA Geneva has allocated an Emergency Cash Grant of USD 20,000 for the local procurement of relief items and for the coverage of transportation costs.

10. The Government of New Zealand has provided temporary shelter (tarpaulins) for the affected population and assistance with repairs to Government buildings, plant nurseries and nurses quarters, as well as assistance with replanting with a total value of NZD 36,500 (about USD 21,340). The United Kingdom will provide supplies for the repair of water systems and for the construction of a public toilet for a total value of approximately GBP 15,000 (USD 25,000).

11. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions, to be used during the immediate relief phase, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations of the United Nations system. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

12. Donors wishing to channel their contributions through OCHA should transfer funds to OCHA account No. CO.590.160.1 at the Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH -1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: Tonga - Cyclone Ron.

13. Donors are requested to inform OCHA, as indicated below, on relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

14. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet WebSite at: http://www.reliefweb.int.

Telephone number: +41-22-917 12 34
Desk Officers: Ms. S. Metzner-Strack/Mr. R. Mueller, OCHA Relief Coordination Branch, direct Tel. +41-22-917 21 44/31 31
Press to contact: Ms. M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct Tel. +41-22-917 28 56
Telex 414242 DHA CH
Fax. +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: info at dha.unicc.org