by Matt Manukuo | January 21, 2022 | Published by Pacific Media Network | READ THE STORY HERE

Environmental activists in Tonga are preparing to teach Tongans how to produce solar power in the wake of the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The disaster has destroyed homes, cut communication lines, and caused major power outages.

The goal is to help build greater resilience in the Pacific following natural disasters, says Joseph Sikulu, managing director of the organisation 350 Pacific.

“Next month we are launching our solar scholars training that will be running on the island.

“This teaches communities how to pull together solar power packs with bits and pieces from the hardware store, to ensure they have access to power in the aftermath of disaster”.

The Charge TekPak is a portable solar generator made for off-grid use. First used in the Philippines, the training to make these solar packs proved useful during natural disasters.

The TekPak can power LED lights, charge mobile phones and has basic medical and communication uses, providing power for communities without electricity.

Sikulu says this will be beneficial after the severe impacts of the eruption.

“We want to ensure our communities and families can have some tools and resources to ensure they can do what they need to do in the face of a disaster.”

The eruption has especially caused a severe impact on vulnerable low lying islands.

“One thing the tsunami has done has highlighted how susceptible our islands are to rising waters. Low lying islands in Tonga had no chance against this tsunami,” says Sikulu.

“Low lying islands across the entire Pacific do not stand a chance if the waters continue to rise. If anything it’s shown us that we need to do everything we can to stop our oceans from rising and the catastrophic damage it will bring.”

Joseph says another problem that needs improvement is communication in the Pacific. Communications have been severely limited to Tonga following the eruption.

“I hope this starts a conversation infrastructure in the Pacific, to do more to diversify those so our people can continue to talk to each other.

“Our people need access to satellite data, satellite internet. My hope is that we can begin to put those structures in place so that in the face of disaster, we aren’t faced with this blackout”.

The 350 team in Tonga are yet to be reached as communications to Tonga are limited.

Note: The Solar Scholars program was initiated in 2014 by ICSC’s RE-Charge Pilipinas (RCP) team to train local communities on integrating renewable energy in disaster preparedness and emergency response. Visit to know more about RCP.


Photo by Alren Beronio/ICSC. Taken during the Solar Scholars training in the Bicol region last November 2021.