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Tonga's first-ever housing forum to build partnerships and resilience against shelter threats

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Ways to ensure resilient and accessible housing is one of the main topics at the first ever housing forum Habitat for Humanity New Zealand is hosting, in partnership with the Tonga Ministry of Infrastructure, in the Kingdom of Tonga on Wednesday, 17 May 2023.

For vulnerable communities in Tonga, their homes and living conditions are a significant concern, which is only heightened by the increasing effects of climate change. Too often, families are in the process of recovering and rebuilding from one disaster, only to be struck by another.

The one-day forum will bring together and encourage partnerships between key organisations in the NGO housing sector as part of the organisation's on-going efforts in the wider Pacific to increase the adequacy of housing and build resilience for vulnerable families against these shelter threats.

“Partnerships are an impactful way that we can understand in-country shelter needs, input into local policy, and ultimately deliver sustainable outcomes for safe and resilient housing in Tonga,” says Alan Thorp, Group Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand.

“Habitat for Humanity New Zealand is looking forward to facilitating important discussions about how best to meet the needs of vulnerable Pacific families.”

The forum will build on Habitat New Zealand’s decades-long experience of conducting programmes in the Pacific that enhance local community knowledge in Build Back Safer (BBS) methods, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Financial Literacy and Safe Shelter Awareness.

The event and its themes are a timely addition to the conversation surrounding how climate change will impact the living conditions of Pacific nations in addition to the frequent risk of extreme weather and natural disasters they already face.

Only last year, the underwater eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and subsequent tsunami left many local Tongan families displaced and without safe or adequate shelter. Habitat New Zealand, in partnership with the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology (TIST), has also been active in the on-going rebuild efforts on Tongatapu and Nomuka.

The Tonga Housing Forum is proudly supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the 5-year Negotiated Partnership with Habitat for Humanity New Zealand. The New Zealand High Commissioner Matthew Howell will be attending the Forum, and there will be a range of speakers and panelists including from the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology, local NGOs, and the private sector.

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