Tonga: Rapid Damage Assessment and Recovery Framework for Tropical Cyclone Gita

Context and Objectives

On 12 February 2018, the Kingdom of Tonga was hit by Tropical Cyclone Gita , a category 4 storm. The main island of Tongatapu and the island of Eura bore the brunt of the cyclone, causing widespread damage and directly affecting almost 80 percent of the population.

Following an official request from the Government of Tonga, the World Bank/GFDRR, the EU, and UNDP supported the Government in undertaking a Rapid Assessment and Recovery Framework.

Main activities and results

The rapid assessment made use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which were tested during the earlier ACP-EU NDRR Window 1 project "Utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Disaster Assessment in the Pacific Islands" (UAV4Resilience).

The following results were achieved:

  • Recovery framework developed: The UAV images following Tropical Cyclone Gita could be compared to the pre-event UAV images that were captured in October 2017 during the UAV4Resilience project, and as such inform recovery and reconstruction planning. The images helped to create a post-baseline map that can be updated through the recovery and reconstruction phases. The rapid assessment found that the total economic value of the effects caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita mounted to approximately T$356.1 million (US$164.1 million), which is equivalent to 37.8 percent of the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in Tonga.
  • Data assets re-purposed: The 44 UAV images covering the main island of Tonga were made available on They are now being used by Tonga’s Ministry of Education to plan for the reconstruction of schools following Cyclone Gita, and by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources to validate damage claims. To inspire the use of UAVs well beyond the Pacific, the World Bank showcased the results of the projects during the 2018 G7 Ministerial Meeting.
  • Financing leveraged: The ACP-EU NDRR project enabled the World Bank Additional Financing for the Pacific Resilience Project Under the Pacific Resilience Program, to support the Tongan Ministry of Education on the repair of school infrastructure. 

Partnerships and coordination

The rapid assessment was prepared under the leadership of the Government of Tonga, with the support of GFDRR/World Bank, EU, and UNDP. The rapid assessment was undertaken in close coordination with the Pacific Community, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Useful links

The Post Disaster Rapid Assessment is available here.

A Results in Resilience feature story on the ACP-EU NDRR Project Window 1 Project and its follow-up Window 3 project is available here.

The UAV images of Tonga are available here at OpenAerialMap.

  • Pacific
Window of Action
  • Window 3
Amount approved
  • $99,754
  • 04/2018 - 12/2018