Our work overseas

Hope delivered for families in Tonga

Delivering life-saving water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies

Story by Sheenal Sharma - UNICEF Pacific

Imagine having to go to your neighbours every day to fetch water for drinking.

Until recently, this was a reality for Pele Manase and her family of five, who live in Tofoa, located in Tonga’s main island – Tongatapu.

“For six years, my children had to fetch water for drinking from our neighbours who had a water tank, and sometimes we also bought water for drinking.”

But now, her family is among the hundreds of families in Tonga to receive the 10,000-litre water tank which comes with a filtering system and is now being used to collect rainwater for drinking while the tap water is used for cooking and washing.


Pele, with her three children at their home in Tofoa.

“We are so grateful for getting the water tank especially after the volcano eruption,” says the emotional mother of three.

The supply and installation of the 10,000-litre water tanks among other life-saving interventions in the aftermath of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano eruption and tsunami is part of UNICEF’s ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Health to support affected families and children with access to clean drinking water, proper sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

About the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano eruption and tsunami

One year ago on 15th January 2022, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano violently erupted, triggering a 1.2-metre-high tsunami.

The massive eruption, which sent shockwaves as far as Japan and Peru – thousands of kilometres away, affected 84 per cent of the Tongan population. It destroyed buildings and damaged crops, and left families and children without access to basic needs.

One of the biggest impacts was on water. The eruption left a thick blanket of volcanic ash over much of the country. Not only was it hard to breathe the air, but the ash also fell everywhere, and contaminated the water sources.

UNICEF worked quickly together with the Ministry of Health to deliver life-saving WASH support to families and children, reaching over 47,000 people.


Kave Mahe, (second from right) and his family were supported through household water treatment activities.

Other critical WASH interventions

As well as supporting access to clean drinking water, communities were also supported through household water treatment activities. Additionally, UNICEF also delivered 3,000 WASH kits; 600 household WASH COVID-19 response kits; 834 collapsible containers; and 900 buckets.

And, to support household sanitation, about 100 field latrines were distributed to affected families in Kanakupolu, Popua, Sopu and Patangata.


Senolita Akauola, 20, and her family of four are among those who were supported by UNICEF through the provision of a field latrine.