A regional training workshop on tsunami warning and emergency response SOPs for East African and Western Indian Ocean countries was held at the Blue Pearl Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 15-19 November. The workshop was attended by 22 participants from 8 countries: Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Yemen. The trainers were: Tony Elliott and Masahiro Yamamoto from UNESCO IOC, Dr Laura Kong (ITIC) and Amir Mohyuddin (NDMA, Pakistan).
The participants comprised representatives from regional National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWC) and National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMO), and the Tanzania Red Cross National Society. The training content focused on: earthquake and tsunami science for tsunami warning; tsunami hazards in the Indian Ocean; fundamental Tsunami Warning Centre SOPs for a timely warning; tsunami emergency response and preparedness; information flow SOPs – media and public information; the development of SOPS, including data analysis, processes, flowcharts and checklists, timelines; and tsunami warning decision support tools.
The key outcomes of the workshop were the provision of templates and guidelines to be used to create SOPs at the national level and a draft set of SOPs created at the workshop. Further important outcomes were the fostering of closer coordination between the NTWCs and NDMOs of the region.
A tabletop exercise tested the group’s understanding of SOPs for a distant tsunami scenario. The exercise demonstrated the groups’ understanding of the role of SOPs in tsunami warning and emergency response. At the same time, gaps and weaknesses were identified, which the participants will address at the national level.
This workshop was organized in response to a common need identified in country capacity assessment missions conducted in Indian Ocean member states following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Funding for the workshop was from IOC Regular Programme funds and the Indian Ocean Consortium administered by UNISDR. The workshop has identified a demand for conducting a programme of country-specific workshops to develop critical capacity at the national level. A need for a regular biennial regional workshop was also identified.