As a remote island, Tonga struggles with limited resources, decreased tourism, and climate change. The poverty rate in Tonga is 22.1 percent, which means one out of every five Tongans lives below the poverty line.
Tonga has the additional burden of unpredictable, severe weather patterns and rising sea levels. Cyclones, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and landslides are common. Increased rainfall means more mosquitos and pests, stagnant water, and unhygienic environments, which leads to disease outbreaks.
Housing is a significant determinant of health, particularly in developing countries like Tonga. Low-income families often live in housing that exposes them to health risks such as infection, injury, and respiratory illness. A 2017 study on housing in Tonga found that in addition to multiple structural hazards, 15 percent of homes had significant structural damage, 42 percent had water damage, 32 percent no longer provided a physical barrier to the outside environment, and 36 percent had visibly present mold. Some families in this situation, choose to send their children to live with relatives, dividing families out of necessity.
This summer, HEFY will be building homes for low-income families with poor housing situations. We are collaborating with local church leaders and town officials to find the families most in need of your service. Your efforts will change the lives of these families and offer a healthier and safer place for them to call home.
Source: Reliefweb, The Borgen Project, Housing as a Determinants of Tongan Children’s Health