Communities affected by volcanic ash from last year’s eruption of Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano will benefit from improved access to safe and hygienic drinking water as a result of a USD $50,000 (TOP 116,000) grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation to the Tonga Community Development Trust.
This is the second year The Coca-Cola Foundation has supported sustainable rainwater harvesting projects in Tonga.
Tonga Community Development Trust Executive Director, Sione Fakaosi, says rainwater collected in household water tanks is the main source of drinking water in Tonga, with one tank often serving a number of families in the community.
“However, we need to improve awareness that rainwater can be contaminated during its journey from the roof or from storage in the water tank. Many households rarely clean and flush out their water tanks and this leads to incidences of water-borne diseases.
“It is important to change the perception and practices on collecting and storing rainwater, especially with the increasing risks posed by climate change and natural disasters such as droughts, hurricanes and events like the volcanic eruption experienced last year. Natural disasters such as these impact the quantity and availability of rainwater for drinking.
“It is critical for our communities to be aware of these risks and know how to take action in order to ensure the water they are drinking from tanks is clean and safe,” says Mr Fakaosi.
The Coca-Cola Foundation grant is enabling the Tonga Community Development Trust to run a series of workshops in Kolovai, Kolofo’ou and Kolomotu’a Districts, which were affected by volcanic ash last year.
The grant will involve educating communities about the importance of testing their drinking water. It will involve a total of eight sustainable rainwater harvesting workshops, in three districts, in which communities will learn different components of sustainable rainwater harvesting, identifying potential sources of water contamination, and what actions need to be taken to address contaminated water.
It will include direct follow-up actions with these communities and wider awareness raising about the importance of safe drinking water, especially in times of natural disasters which can affect water sanitation.
As part of the workshops, Lesieli Mahe, Public Health Officer from the Ministry of Health, is providing health advice on the health impacts of drinking contaminated water and ways that health risks can be reduced.
The Coca-Cola Foundation President, Saadia Madsbjerg, says: “One of the priorities of The Coca-Cola Foundation is to help transform lives and build more resilient communities through water stewardship– from supplying sources of clean drinking water to improving sanitation and hygiene.
“We are very proud to support the Tonga Community Development Trust increase awareness of how to keep their communities safe.”