A regional training workshop on tsunami warning and emergency response SOPs for Northern and Eastern Indian Ocean countries was held at the Mercure Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, 23-27 September 2013, hosted by the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG). The workshop was attended by 32 participants from 9 countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. The workshop was conducted by a team of 12 trainers from Australia, India, Indonesia, United States, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and IOC UNESCO.
The participants represented National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs), Disaster Management Organisations (DMOs) and national media organisations. The workshop programme included plenary lecture sessions, breakout group work, and site visits to the BMKG tsunami warning centre, the National Disaster Management Centre (BNPB) and a national media organisation (Metro TV).
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 in late 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 NTWC groups reported that they found it difficult to respond to requests for information during the first 30 minutes of the exercise. On the other hand, the DMOs commented that they wanted more information, more quickly from the NTWCs. The media groups commented that they wanted to receive more information faster and preferably at the same time or before sources of unofficial information.
The inclusion of national media organisations in this workshop was particularly enlightening as it exposed several potential gaps in the flow of information between the media and other stakeholders. This highlighted the need for the media to develop SOPs that are harmonised and coherent with the SOPs of other national organisations in the warning chain.
Funding for the workshop was provided from IOC Special Account funds contributed by the Government of Australia. It is planned to conduct a similar workshop for Western and Northern Indian Ocean countries in Hyderabad, India, in 2014.
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.