UNDP to pay Ha'apai cyclone victims to clear debris
UNDP to pay Ha'apai families in exchange for their work in clearing debris after Cyclone Ian in January.
The United Nations Development Programme has signed an agreement with the Tongan government to pay families in cyclone-hit Ha'apai to clean debris from affected areas.
The government of Tonga estimates total damages of almost $30 million US from Cyclone Ian, which caused significant damage to homes, infrastructure and agriculture in January.
The Deputy Resident Representative, Akiko Fujii, told Mary Baines the scheme, called Cash-For-Work, is hoped to speed up recovery efforts.
AKIKO FUJII: That project is providing the support to the disaster victims in Ha'apai in two ways. One is through the direct cash dispersement, towards the work that is going to be provided by the individual workers. And then secondly through the actual work towards the recovery activities by those individuals, which would include debris cleaning and some livelihood activities that would really help the victims to recover quickly.
MARY BAINES: So basically families will clean debris in affected areas and get paid for it?
AF: Correct. The direct payment, yes, for the work that they are going to do.
MB: So how much will they get paid? What kind of costs will be covered?
AF: The idea is really they will receive the renumerations for the work that they will provide towards community rebuilding. So it's based on the local context and we are looking at of course the minimum wage and decent work conditions that is based on the Tongan standard. We are budgeting around 20 Tongan dollars per day work, and will be working very very closely with the governor's office in Ha'apai for the selection of the workers and also to manage the actual work and also the payments.
MB: Can any family get involved or is there a selection process?
AF: There is going to be a selection process. Really the local authorities have the relevant data and information which is to do with how much the house has been affected, also including the level of income and also the conditions that would require special assistance and therefore qualify for this project. But we are looking at about up to 1,000 workers budgeted for this project, between 1000 and 1,500.
MB: And I understand you're actually in Ha'apai at the moment. What is the situation like now, we're almost four months on from when Cyclone Ian hit?
AF: We have observed of course quite a lot of early recovery activities already happening with the leadership by the local authority and the government and also the community members. Quite a lot of debris have been already cleaned and also some livelihoods, including banana, corn and other sort of crops have started to be in Ha'apai, but I could also see quite a few houses are still sort of untouched since the disaster, and quite a lot of populations are still living in the tents, in the temporary accommodations. So I think this cash-for-work is going to really accelerate the much-needed recovery activities, even after four months after the disaster, I think quite a lot of damage is still there.
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