The IOC Tsunami Programme aims at reducing the loss of lives and livehoods that could be produced worldwide by tsunamis. In order to accomplish this, the IOC Tsunami Unit supports IOC Member States in assessing tsunami risk, implementing Tsunami Early Warning Systems (EWS) and in educating communities at risk about preparedness measures.
In order to implement effective preventive measures, communities need to be aware of the risk they face. Tsunami risk assessment includes the evaluation of the hazard and the levels of vulnerability of coastal communities. Hazard assessment encompasses the identification of the probability of occurrence of a tsunami based on the identification of possible tsunami sources and the evaluation of historical data. On the other hand, vulnerability assessment aims at identifying the pre-existing physical, social, economical and environmental conditions that make a zone susceptible of suffering important losses and damages. This information is essential for setting up disaster management strategies.
Tsunami early warning systems are based on observation networks of seismometers and sea level measuring stations, which send real time data to national and regional warning centers (TWCs). Based on these observations, TWCs are able to confirm or cancel a tsunami watch or warning. When a potentially destructive tsunami is detected, national authorities should decide if a tsunami warning and an evacuation order must be issued to the public.
It is essential that communities at risk know the actions that need to be undertaken in case of eminent danger. Public awareness campaigns and Standard Operating Protocols must be designed; evacuation routes need to be identified and evacuation drills must be organized. Community-based approaches must be taken into consideration in order to take advantage of traditional coping mechanisms and ensure that all the needs and concerns of individuals at risks are considered.
The IOC Tsunami Programme, through the coordination of regional meetings, capacity building activities and the support of national and regional projects is a key stakeholder for tsunami risk reduction at global level. Four Intergovernmental Coordination Groups (ICGs) corresponding to the regions Pacific, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and