Photo from (Phil and Jan's Adventure in Tonga)

HA’APAI, 06 NOVEMBER 2019 (ADB)— The Asian Development Bank (ADB) joined the Government of Tonga and other development partners in an inauguration ceremony today to officially open the Niu’ui Hospital in its new location in Ha’apai.

The hospital was relocated to higher ground, as part of the ADB-supported Climate Resilience Sector Project.

The King of Tonga, Tupou VI, led the opening ceremony and the Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office Masayuki Tachiiri attended the event.

“The relocation of Ha’apai’s Niu’ui Hospital is a living, breathing example of the multiple benefits that may be gained from building public infrastructure back better,” said the Minister for Health, Amelia Afuha’amango Tu’ipulotu. “The new location is much less vulnerable to disasters and safer for patients, staff, and visitors.”

On 11 January 2014, Cyclone Ian, the most powerful storm ever recorded in Tonga’s waters, passed directly over the northeast Tongan islands of Ha’apai. The category 5 storm affected 66% of Ha’apai’s population. Niu’ui Hospital lost part of its roof in the storm and, given its close proximity to the eroding coastline, it was found that the hospital was more vulnerable to disasters than previously thought. Through the project, the hospital was moved to the highest point of the island and built back better and bigger with new features including a 500,000-liter rainwater storage tank and x-ray facilities.

“Extreme weather in recent years in Tonga has caused severe flooding and drought. Sea level rise is also contributing to coastal erosion, putting infrastructure and property at risk,” said Mr. Tachiiri. “ADB remains committed to helping Tonga and other Pacific developing member countries build resilience to natural disasters.”

Other benefits of the project include enhanced climate resilience of additional schools in the outer islands; construction of evacuation roads in Eua and Tongatapu, Tonga’s main island; and the introduction of a sustainable financing mechanism to ensure vulnerable communities have access to climate-responsive community investments vital to livelihoods. (PACNEWS)