Beyond Recovery: Towards 2030

Our Evolving Response for Tonga

Tonga has been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders however, entry restrictions are in place prohibiting travelers from entering Tonga except for Tongan citizens returning by special arrangement. The country has banned the arrival of cruise ships and yachts into the country and its declaration of a State of Emergency since March 2020 has been extended to 15 February 2021 due to the ongoing spread of the virus globally. Current restrictions include curfews from midnight to 5am, gathering to not exceed 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, complying with social distancing of 1.5 meters, and complying with the Ministry of Health requirements for sanitation and hygiene. 

According to the Ministry of Health, should the virus reach Tonga, it would place considerable constraints on an already challenged health system and cause possible loss of life. Significant disruptions in global and regional supply chains, higher prices, and economic losses around the world will also be felt in Tonga as the country relies heavily on imported goods and services. Border closures and travel restrictions are significantly affecting the tourism industry, which Tonga’s economy relies on. Most Tongan businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises, which are especially vulnerable to economic disruptions.

UNDP's Offer 2.0

Building a new social contract

UNDP is supporting the Government in the following areas:

Institutional continuity of the Tonga Parliament to fulfil its constitutional mandate with a specific focus on its continuity despite COVID-19 restrictions through:

  • strategic and technical advice for review and adaptation of parliamentary procedure to the new working context
  • support the development of internal Standard Operating Procedures and Business Continuity Plan to ensure administrative continuity
  • assist the digitalization and capacity to work remotely by providing ICT equipment to allow virtual meetings of committees, virtual public consultations and budget discussions. 

A specific assistance is proposed on strengthening parliamentary oversight of the Executive response to the pandemic and provide a ‘surge’ capacity to conduct an independent parliamentary budget analysis on COVID-19 response packages through the Pacific Floating Budget Office, especially on cross-cutting thematic issues such as gender inclusivity and climate change finance.

Provision of technical policy and advisory support on COVID-19 and corruption. An advisory note on ‘COVID-19 and Corruption in the Pacific’ has been prepared and distributed to Pacific governments. A series of COVID-19 activities are being implemented, including in relation to addressing the procurement risks, capacity building for corruption risk assessment in the health sector, alerting of human-rights implications of corruption under COVID-19 and awareness raising of COVID-19 corruption risks across all sectors of society.

Building the capacity of Pacific journalists to report and investigate anti-corruption and integrity issues is being planned, with specific focus on integrity impacts of COVID-19. A regional webinar is being developed with planned assistance to media associations to include Tonga, Samoa, Palau and Fiji.

 

Uprooting inequalities

UNDP is supporting the Government by:

Ensuring work continuity despite restrictions: UNDP worked with the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Women’s Affairs, Gender and Equality Division in re-purposing the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) Project for Rural and Urban Tongans. UNDP procured essential ICT equipment for Tongan counterparts ensuring work continuity despite restriction of movement.

Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19: UNDP continues to support the revision of the REACH model in Tonga in partnership with UN Women to respond to the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, which have been exacerbated by the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Supporting Tonga’s COVID-19 preparedness efforts through the procurement of commodities that would assist the Communicable Disease Section of the Ministry of Health in their prevention and control efforts. These commodities include personal protective equipment’s such as gloves, cover shoes, overalls, face shields, safety glasses, safety boots and face masks.
 

Rebalancing nature, climate and economy

UNDP is supporting the Government through the:

Climate Promise. UNDP is supporting Tonga with enhancing and updating its Nationally Determined Contribution through six service lines. 

  • To build political will and societal ownership at national and sub-national levels
  • Review, align and update existing targets, policies and measures
  • Incorporate new sectors and/or greenhouse gases
  • Assess costs and investment opportunities
  • Monitor progress and strengthen transparency 
  • Support communications, learning and others

 

For speed and scale

UNDP is supporting the Government:

Through the Tongan Family Protection Legal Aid Centre (FPLAC) with a digital transformation excercise to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and the limitations faced by survivors of domestic violence. 

FPLAC and the users of its free legal aid services will benefit from access to simplified online information and self-guided legal research portal, with live chat and and case intake functionality. This will be paired with an easy to use Android Application that will combine maximum privacy and protections for survivors of domestic violence with the ability to function as a case intake tool for FPLAC including enhanced ability to communicate and coordinate with domestic violence service providers within Tonga.

Overall, the intiative will effectively bring FPLAC’s services online, increase their ability to reach out and provide legal aid to some of Tonga’s most vulnerable, and enahnce the population’s ability to access their services. Based on the experience, we anticipate moving to scale up the initiative with legal aid and services providers across the Pacific.

 

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