The IOC UNESCO project on “Enhancing Tsunami Risk Assessment and Management, Strengthening Policy Support and Developing Guidelines for Tsunami Exercises in Indian Ocean Countries” is being jointly implemented by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS) and the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC). The project aims to support the development and strengthening of tsunami exercise policies in the three pilot countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Timor Leste. The project is supported through a grant from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness.
In each pilot country, a stock taking survey designed to assess disaster risk reduction policies relating to tsunami has been undertaken. The survey addresses tsunami risk, hazard, exercise activities and emergency response standard operating procedures via consultation with two main stakeholders in each country.
Training modules on Policy Support and Guidelines for Tsunami Exercises were developed by an expert team comprised of researchers, scientists, government representatives and Disaster Risk Reduction specialists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Based on IOC Manuals and Guides Series No. 52: “Tsunami Risk Assessment and Mitigation for the Indian Ocean”, and No. 58: “How to Plan, Conduct and Evaluate Tsunami Exercises”, two training modules were developed, which will be implemented in two separate workshops in three pilot countries. The first training module focuses on the development of national policies to support a sustainable tsunami exercise programme. The second module focuses on how to plan and implement tsunami exercises. The training workshops will assist the three target countries to prepare and actively participate in the upcoming Indian Ocean Wave Exercise scheduled to take place in September 2014. Workshops on the first training module have been undertaken in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2013 and in Dili, Timor Leste in February 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.