23 Nov 2011

World Bank to help Tonga as poverty rises

4:22 pm on 23 November 2011

The World Bank is to give Tonga a nine million US dollar grant to strengthen its economy and help protect 30,000 people from poverty.

The Bank says Tonga's economy has been hard hit by the global economic crisis, with high food and fuel prices, a slump in remittances, a fall in tourist numbers and a lower tax take.

It says while remittances had been a third of GDP and a lifeline for families and communities, they've declined by more than 25 percent.

The Bank says poverty in Tonga is up one third in the past ten years, with one in five people unable to afford basics like food, electricity and medicines.

One part of the grant will include a community-led scheme for social protection to reduce poverty.

This will provide temporary employment in vulnerable communities across the country.