Two years ago, in January, the Tongan archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean was hit by the largest volcanic eruption recorded since Krakatoa in 1883. The eight-minute volcanic event shot ash 18 kilometres into the sky in a plume 5 kilometres wide. The cloud and ash fall are estimated to have affected 84% of Tonga’s population of 100 209, and the eruption also triggered a tsunami.

These disasters were followed by a significant COVID-19 outbreak in February 2022, resulting in a country-wide lockdown that hindered relief and recovery efforts until June.

An immediate EIB donation — channelled by the EIB Institute through CARE Luxembourg, working with the local NGO MORDI Tonga Trust — funded the safe, long-term relocation of a community of 358 people in Kanokupolu (Kingdom of Tonga) whose lives and homes had been devastated by the eruption.

A new water supply system has been built for their settlement, despite many challenges, including unexpected weather patterns delaying the works, materials shortages and a new request by the King of Tonga for a backup system requiring additional funding (eventually provided by Japan).

Connected in January 2024, the system contains two 27 000 litre water tanks, a diesel mechanical pump and piping running to a new water tower.

Through the EIB Institute, the Bank has also supported relief efforts following other natural disasters in the recent past.