Tonga Volcano and Tsunami

On January 15 the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai underwater volcano, located 65km from the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa, erupted triggering tsunami waves and ashfall. Tsunami waves rose up to 15 metres.

Early indications suggest at least 3 people have died, up to 50 homes are destroyed and up to 80% of the population are estimated to be affected. While power has been restored to much of the main island of Tongatapu, communications remain limited with the outer islands and a break in the undersea communications cable is severely limiting information into and out of the country. This may take weeks to be restored.

Initial damage assessment is now underway. Major damage is expected in the Ha’api Islands and there are immediate concerns for the health of communities across Tonga due to ash pollution in drinking water.

The Government of Tonga will lead the response and will be working with key civil society and other organisations within Tonga, coordinating information and responses.  Limited communication into and out of Tonga is slowing down an assessment of the damage caused and what is needed on the ground.  To maximise the effectiveness of our support, it is important that we wait for assessments to understand the need on the ground.  Prepositioned supplies such as water purification units and hygiene kits are held in country by NGOs and other organisations which will be have released for use and additional supplies  will be on the HMAS Adelaide on its way to Tonga.

ACFID members work closely with their partners in Tonga to help communities prepare and respond to disasters just like this one. More information on Members working in Tonga and the Pacific can be found through our interactive aid map.

We will update this site once we have more information from government agencies and responding organisations on the ground. 

Please find out more about the valuable efforts of our members and how you can contribute to their responses below.  Please note that due to communication limitations, a number of our members are waiting  to restore communications with their partners  to understand what is needed and to support the Tongan government and communities to respond to this emergency. The Tonga people are best placed to understand what they need and how we can support them to recover. We will continue to update this page with additional members appeals as they are launched.

Donate Responsibly

Australians understand the impacts of natural disaster and are incredibly compassionate and generous to those who experience similar. Unfortunately if we are not smart in how we do that, we can actually cause more problems for the Tongan people.

You can be assured that your support to any member listed below will meet identified needs on the ground. The standards by which ACFID members make appeals for donations are set by ACFID’s Code of Conduct. This includes a responsibility to provide clear information to their donors on the emergency and the work they are doing with affected communities.

Anglican Board of Mission - Relief distributions via the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia 

Anglican Overseas Aid - Initial funding will support the distribution from and replenishment of relief supplies from existing prepositioned sites in that are already located at Anglican churches in Nuku’alofa. This is especially important given that we are in the middle of the annual cyclone season. AOA is partnering with Anglican Missions New Zealand and the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia (Tonga), given their strong local presence and previous experience in responding to previous disasters in Tonga.

ADRA Australia - ADRA’s partners on the ground are distributing immediate cash assistance to the most vulnerable families. This cash grant allows families to meet their most urgent needs, whether that is access to clean water, shelter or food. As well as helping with the immediate response, donations to ADRA will also support long-term recovery through agricultural support.

UnitingWorld - Funds raised will support our partner the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga to meet the immediate needs of affected communities as they are identified (e.g., food, water, shelter and psycho-social support). Funds will also support longer-term recovery and rebuilding once the full extent of the damage is known.

Australian Red Cross - Australian Red Cross is seeking to urgently raise $346,500 towards critical aid and broader support for Tonga.  From 19 January donations to our International Disaster Fund will support relief and recovery efforts including access to clean drinking water and materials to help repair homes, and broader support for Tonga Red Cross to be able to prepare for and respond to disasters like this.

Act for Peace - Act for Peace works closely with the Tonga National Council of Churches (TNCC), our local partner on the ground, to help communities prepare and respond to disasters. TNCC are experienced in emergencies, having led on the response to Tropical Cyclone Harold in 2020 by providing access to water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to most affected communities. Once communications are back up in Tonga, Act for Peace will work closely with the team at TNCC to help respond to people’s immediate needs.

World Hope International - World Hope International is responding to the disastrous volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga which has caused terrible damage and loss. We believe that those with a background of working in a country alongside local communities are best suited to support relief efforts quickly and efficiently. As such we are working with the South Pacific Regional Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church to assess the needs within Tonga, as well as to raise much needed funds which will help communities and families with clean water and shelter.

UNICEF Australia - UNICEF is mobilizing emergency supplies prepositioned in the Australian humanitarian warehouse in Brisbane and the UNICEF warehouse in Fiji for immediate deployment to Tonga to support affected communities. These include 1,000 sets each of family WASH and dignity kits, buckets, jerry cans, and one portable water field testing kit, together with 50 recreational kits reaching 2,000 children to support their psychosocial recovery. UNICEF will be working with its on-the-ground partners, government and NGO’s, to ensure parents and children affected by the tsunami are provided with the support they need.

CARE Australia - CARE Australia has long standing relationships with local partners in Tonga who are best placed to respond to this emergency. Your donation will help provide immediate lifesaving support to communities across Tonga who have lost their homes, livelihoods and farmland and also support them to recover, rebuild and better prepare for future emergencies.

Australian Lutheran World Service - Australian Lutheran World Service is working to support the CAN-DO Network, partnering with churches in Tonga to meet the most urgent needs expressed by local communities.

ActionAid Australia - ActionAid Australia's Tonga Emergency Appeal aims to support the Talitha Project, a women's rights organisation that promotes Pacific women's leadership in disaster responses and climate change. Support for the Talitha Project will enable women-led emergency response teams to provide immediate necessities to women and girls, including clean water, dignity kits and psychosocial counselling.

Anglican Relief and Development Fund Australia - ARDFA is partnering with the Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan Church (TEWC) to provide disaster relief to the people who are directly impacted.  Relief will be distributed to affected areas in Tongatapu (main island), coastal front, vulnerable people in the informal settlement area. Relief will also be deployed to the island of 'Eua, where houses were completely destroyed by the tsunami. Our on-the-ground partner, ‘Ofa Ki He Masiva, is already serving vulnerable people in these areas, and will be able to utilise its network to make sure that much needed aid relief will reach those who need it most.

Australian Red Cross - Australian Red Cross will continue to support recovery needs through the Tonga Recovery Appeal. We have partnered with the NRL (National Rugby League), Rugby Australia, and others from February 2022 to raise an additional $696,027. Over 24 months (ending in January 2024), the Australian Red Cross Tonga Recovery Appeal will contribute to the IFRC Emergency Appeal that targets 17,000 people with livelihoods support, cash assistance, emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and strengthening the capacity of Tonga Red Cross to respond to future disasters.