Royals show support for mangrove restoration programs and the construction of Kolovai seawall and ‘Ahau coastal barrier, in Western Tongatapu

06th April, 2019 TONGAN In what was history in the making for the people of Western Tongatapu, a joint Royal visit with Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u and His Royal Highness Prince Ata accompanied His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Norway Prince Haakon, to the district to witness the negative impacts of climate change on both the environment and the lives of the vulnerable communities.

On top of this historical visit, Prince Haakon himself planted a mangrove in ‘Ahau to show his commitment to supporting the people of Tonga in their effort to build resilience against climate change. It also marks the beginning of the much anticipated restoration of 7 hectares of mangroves (along these coastal communities) under the European Union funded and GIZ Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (EU-GIZ ACSE) programme. The Royals witnessed the construction of the Kolovai Seawall and the ‘Ahau barrier that are currently underway.

The event was organized by the Palace Office in collaboration with MEIDECC and was scheduled to commence with an initial 15 minute stopover at Kolovai before the royals proceeded to ‘Ahau. At the sites, the community and MEIDECC staff from the Department of Climate Change displayed images that indicated how sea level rise, inundation, flooding and coastal erosion have impacted the lives of both Kolovai and ‘Ahau communities.

The event brought together talking chiefs, district officers, town officers and the local community who welcomed the Royals to the site, followed by the mangrove planting and a short display of the vulnerable situations experienced by the coastal community over the past twenty years. The visit ended with a luncheon for the Royals at Liku’alofa Beach Resort before the Royal Norwegian delegation is expected to leave the Kingdom.

Other High Officials accompanied the delegation include the Lord Chamberlain, Mrs. Viela Tupou and staff from the Palace Office and Foreign Affairs, Minister for MEIDECC, Hon. Poasi Tei, CEO for MEIDECC, Mr. Paula Ma’u, Director for Climate Change, Ms. Lu’isa Tu’i’afitu-Malolo and her staff, Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, Chief Secretary to Cabinet, Edgar Cocker, EU-GIZ ACSE Project Team, Representative from the EU Office in Tonga, Hon. Minister for Internal Affairs (MIA) Hon. Losaline Ma’asi and officials from other government line ministries.

With the main goal to strengthen partnerships with small island states in the South Pacific, the delegation hopes to also promote common interests in the United Nations and in area of international cooperation such as oceans, climate, peace and security.

The EU-GIZ ACSE Project and the Construction works

The project is funded by the European Union and the Government of Germany with technical and administrative assistance from the GIZ through the EU-GIZ Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (ACSE) Programme.

The EU-GIZ ACSE Tonga project is intended to build the resilience of the Hihifo (Western Tongatapu) coastal communities and mitigate the effects of sea level rise on the people of the district.

The Government-led project team uses a range of on-ground and community engagement actions to help improve coastal protection. The project promotes a ‘Green Buffer’ approach to managing the eastern coast of western Tongatapu. This mean the project uses the strengths of nature and natural processes to help protect the coast from waves and sea-level related flooding.

The EU-GIZ ACSE Project Manager in Tonga, Mr. Manu Manuofetoa stated that the project is a mix of ‘hard’ (seawall) and ‘soft’ (mangrove restorations) options, and that the team is being careful not to create more problems that they solve.

“This is likely to happen when we use hard structures such as sea walls (foreshores) which nature will try and fight against. Hard structures can be very expensive to build and maintain, so the project will try and get the mix of hard and soft actions, like planting mangroves, right.” Mr. Manuofetoa said.

The constructions works are being undertaken by the T&M Construction (Kolovai) and Petani Quarry Construction Company (‘Ahau) in partnership with the project team, and is forecasted to be completed by the end of May, 2019. The works have an estimated cost of TOP$500,000.0 for both the Kolovai seawall construction and ‘Ahau coastal barrier improvements.

The mangrove planting ceremony and the commencement of construction works in Hihifo marks another milestone in Tonga’s strive to help assist its local communities in adapting to climate change. The EU-GIZ ACSE Tonga team is particularly happy that the Royal visit mark this special yet important phase of the project’s timeline – all towards the protection of local livelihoods through sustainable practices and methods.

For more information please contact:

Manu Manuofetoa

Ph: 22-430

Mob: 7733695

Email: Manuofetoa_m@yahoo.com

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