'Eua Island is home to the Kingdom of Tonga's only remaining protected national forests, as well as its only natural spring-fed streams.
However, this lush ecosystem is also highly vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters, which frequently cause significant water supply challenges for the population of 'Eua.
Long periods of drought are frequently interrupted by increasingly powerful tropical cyclones.
Heavy rains contaminate streams by washing sediment and mud into them, while earthquakes shift or displace existing aquifers.
Because the island lacks water treatment plants and adequate infrastructure for pumping clean water to many villages, these events repeatedly jeopardize the availability of drinking water, have an impact on basic sanitation, and reduce the amount of water available for agricultural irrigation and homestead gardens managed by many women.
'Eua, despite its proximity to Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, is not always the first to receive attention or relief.
A former Tongan government representative to 'Eua, Sunia Havea said "In times of natural disaster [relief] and [when defining] development priorities, the main island and the capital are usually the focus." That is why, among other things, Sunia is pleased to see IFAD's support for communities throughout Tonga through the TRIP II project, a broad-based approach to natural resource management that is enabling Tonga's communities to strengthen their climate resilience and improve their livelihoods.
The heart of the TRIP II project is its community-driven approach. With this method, residents of the participating communities themselves are centrally involved in the planning, prioritization, and design of Community Development Plans (CDPs), as well as the subprojects these plans generate. Through this community-led process, residents of ‘Eua’s 15 communities identified access to clean, safe, and reliable drinking water as one of their main priorities and implemented a water resilience subproject. With TRIP II’s help, they installed rain catchment tanks for 885 households across the island, providing a sustainable, alternative source of clean water. The project will also help communities’ capacity to maintain the tanks going forward.