Some 22.5% of Tonga’s population live below the national poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank’s latest statistics released Tuesday.

Statistics for infant mortality rate also show that for every 1,000 babies born in Tonga, 14 die before their first birthday.


The good news however, is that all Tongans have access to an improved drinking water source.

Tonga’s last population count in the 2011 census is 103,252, which means that around 23,231 people are living below the national poverty line.

This means that the high cost of living has an effect on people who are having difficulty in meeting basic needs.

In addition are the lack of access to basic infrastructure, services and utilities and the lack of employment or income generating opportunities. Tonga is also vulnerable to natural disasters, which is costly.

The economy is dependent on remittances from overseas, agriculture, tourism, aid donors and the private sector.

Compared to 13 other Pacific countries, Tonga ranks at 12 with the Marshall Islands rating the highest at just over half of the population living below the national poverty line.

Tonga’s closest neighbours, Fiji, has 31% of their population living below the poverty line and Samoa has 26.9%.

Vanuatu has the lowest statistics of poverty at 12.7%.

The statistics are collected by the ADB on poverty and socioeconomic development in Pacific countries.

Tonga recently received a $3 million grant and a $3 million loan approved by the ADB to strengthen long-term economic growth and to respond to external economic shocks such as those caused by natural disasters.

The ADB has provided Tonga with $168.5 million in loans, grants, and technical assistance since it began operations in 1972. SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS [/restrict]