Ma'a Fafine Mo e Famili

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TSS Pilot – Services for the Elderly

The TSS Pilot is the first of its kind in Tonga – a partnership between the Tongan government and a grassroots NGO.  This pilot aims to provide services and care to some of the most vulnerable in our society – elderly people whose families no longer have the resources to care for them properly.

The recent global economic crisis highlights the importance of effective social policies to mitigate the impact of economic downturn on vulnerable households.  Specific impacts include decreasing remittances, reduce tourism earnings, decline in private investment, and decreasing value of commodity exports.  The government of Tonga is facing revenue shortfalls as a result of the deterioration in global economic conditions.  In addition, Pacific Island countries are highly vulnerable to natural disasters as highlighted by the recent earthquake and tsunami events in Tonga and Samoa.  The cost of natural disasters could increase as extreme climate events associated with climate change become more frequent and intense.

During crisis, households in Tonga have traditionally relied on support from extended family networks and strong community ties, which function as informal safety nets.  Yet, with the growth of the cash economy, increasing rural-urban migration, and population growth, traditional informal safety net mechanizing have been weakening.  As people move away from their communities to urban areas in search of better opportunities, community ties weaken.  Also as more people rely on wage income, they are not greater risk of losing their main source of livelihood during economic downturn, as many have done in the recent global economic crisis.  More and more people are having difficulty meeting their basic dependent.  They will need someone to assist them to ease the impact of man-made and natural disaster on vulnerable individuals.  Traditional informal safety nets may help some family members during occasional periods of hardship but are less suited to widespread hardship or successive shocks, such as the recent economic crisis and natural disasters.

Increasing hardship among vulnerable groups and the declining effectiveness of informal safety nets are placing increasing pressure on Pacific Island governments to introduce formal social protection systems.  Such systems, however, are still very limited in the region.  According to the social protection index (SPI) developed by ADB to measure countries social protection coverage and expenditures, Pacific Island countries social protection coverage and expenditures, Pacific Island countries fare poorly compared with Asian Countries in overall coverage.

In response to this situation, the Tongan Ministry of Finance and National Planning, acting through the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is working with Ma’a Fafine Moe Famili to implement one component of the TSSP under the regional programme Social Protection of the Vulnerable in the Pacific.

Description of Services

Overarching Goals & Objectives

Current progress


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