The Indian Ocean Tsunami on 26th December 2004 resulted in the loss of over 230,000 lives including over 2,500 foreign tourists, and the displacement of over 1.6 million people around the Indian Ocean, with estimated economic losses of $14 billion. The catastrophe brought renewed focus on the need for a regional tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. Following the disaster, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was given the mandate to develop and implement an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS). An Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) for the IOTWS was established by the IOC Assembly in July 2005.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, IOC UNESCO and the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology for Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) are sponsoring and organising a conference to recognise the achievements of the last 10 years, to highlight work that still needs to be done, and to seek re-commitment to continued investment in the IOTWS. The conference will be held at the BMKG Auditorium in Jakarta, Indonesia, 24-25 November 2014 and will offer high level perspectives from invited speakers and panel discussions from decision makers and scientists. The 2nd announcement for the conference provides further details of the conference programme.
The second edition of the Post Tsunami Survey Manual has been released by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
This new Field Guide addresses developments in the tsunami field since 1998, and the expansion of International Tsunami Survey Team (ITST) efforts into disciplines and technologies not covered in the first Guide. The Guide provides a flexible framework for undertaking post-tsunami surveys, their guiding principles, and protocols and a set of best practices and templates for individuals and groups considering forming, or participating, in post-tsunami surveys.
It can be downloaded at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002294/229456E.pdf
The first community drill exercise in case of tsunami in Haiti was conducted in the district of Petite Anse in Cap Haitian on July 17, 2014. At 9: 00 AM the members of the "Community Response Teams - EICs" in Petite Anse, started mobilizing the population to the assembly point where about 600 people were educated on tsunami risk.
218 volunteers (Scouts, Rangers, Red Cross) were involved in securing the evacuation axes and 55 staff on medical safety. Public safety (crowd movement and traffic) was taken by the police (National Haiti, UNPOL and MINUSTAH Police) who deployed 142 staff.
The Director of Civil Protection, Mrs. Marie Alta Jean Baptiste, congratulated the institutions involved in the organization, for the excellent safety tools deployed and for mobilizing key actors working in the management of risks and disasters at Community level in the area of Petite Anse. This area is highly vulnerable to tsunami threat because it was urbanized by infilling of mangroves and building homes that do not meet basic standards of construction. The vulnerability of the population is exacerbated by the lack of knowledge of tsunami risk.
As part of the preparation of this simulation exercise, members of the local committee for risk and disaster management (CLGRD) in Petite Anse were trained on the tsunami threat and outreach door to door was conducted. This simulation is a significant public awareness exercise and provides a training opportunity for community actors to strengthen their organizational capacity and response in case of tsunami.
This activity was organized in the framework of the project "Consolidating Haitian capacities for tsunami early warning and preparedness" coordinated by the National System for Disaster Risk Management and UNESCO and funded by the Directorate General of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission (ECHO).
Two training workshops on tsunami preparedness and response for Dominican Republic were held in Santo Domingo and Las Terrenas on July 14-15 and July 17-18, 2014, respectively. The events were hosted by the Global Foundation for Defense (FUNGLODE), thru its Center for Security and Defense, and the National District and Las Terrenas municipalities. Over 250 participants from namely Neighborhood Associations, Firefighters, Civil Defense, Police, Red Cross, Schools, Local Governments, Faith Based Organizations, Hotel Associations and Private Sector benefited from the lectures and exercises. The objective was to encourage the establishment of preventive measures through education, to outline procedures and foster a culture of disaster prevention by empowering local institutions and neighborhoods resulting in the protection of life, property and livelihoods for tsunami events.
The training included presentations and three hands on exercises on tsunami evacuation mapping, community and organizational standard operational procedures and a table top exercise with southern and northern Dominican Republic earthquake/tsunami scenarios. The workshop was conducted by a team of 8 trainers from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, the National Meteorological Organization, the Center for Emergency Operations, Civil Defense, National Emergency Commission, Global Matrix Engineering, Puerto Rico Seismic Network and the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (NWS/NOAA) with support from the Dominican Media Association and IOC/UNESCO. This was the third time that FUNGLODE has hosted this training in the Dominican Republic since 2012.
A regional training workshop on tsunami warning and emergency response Standard Operating Procedures for Northern and Western Indian Ocean countries was held in Hyderabad, India, 23-26 June 2014, hosted by the Government of India through the Indian Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). The workshop was attended by 30 participants from 11 countries, namely: Comoros, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania and Yemen. The workshop was conducted by a team of 10 trainers from Australia, India, Indonesia, United States, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, UNESCO Disaster Risk Reduction and Tsunami Information Unit, Jakarta and IOC UNESCO.
The participants represented National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs), Disaster Management Organisations (DMOs) and national media organisations. The workshop programme included lecture sessions, breakout group work, and a site visit to the Indian National Tsunami Warning Centre and IOTWS Regional Tsunami Service Provider at INCOIS. The lectures and training material were based on manuals and templates developed by IOC UNESCO in collaboration with the NOAA International Tsunami Information Centre (ITIC) since 2008.
The primary objectives of the workshop were: to understand RTSP services and products; to understand the impact of the RTSP products on NTWC SOPs; to identify potential gaps and possible challenges for warning chain SOPs at the national level; to familiarise the electronic media with the RTSP service and develop/adapt SOPs for interfacing with the media; and to prepare for the IOWave14 Exercise, scheduled to take place on 9 and 10 September 2014.
The tabletop exercise on the last day of the workshop provided the participants with an opportunity to put into practice what they had learned. The exercise evaluation took the form of a simulated press conference, with NTWC and DMO representatives facing questions from the media and exercise observers.
The workshop was followed on 27th June by intersessional meetings of the IOTWS Working Group 2 on Tsunami Detection, Warning and Dissemination, Working Group 3 on Tsunami Awareness and Response and the Task Team for the IOWave14 Exercise.
Funding to support the participants' travel and subsistence was provided from IOC Special Account funds contributed by the Government of Australia, with funding for local hosting support provided by the Government of India.
The Indonesian coast, between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, after the earthquake and the tsunami of 26 December 2004. Photo by Evan Schneider © UN Photo
UNESCO supports Member States in improving capabilities for tsunami risk assessment, implementing early warning systems and enhancing preparedness of communities at risk. UNESCO works closely with national institutions and promotes inter-institutional and regional cooperation. Specialized regional centers provide tsunami information that, together with national analysis, is the basis of the warnings issued for the public. In addition, UNESCO promotes community-based approaches in the development of response plans and awareness campaigns which strongly involve education institutions and end-users.