On July 29-31, 2013 Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE) of the Dominican Republic hosted the first Tsunami Safety Course tailored for the Tourism, Hotel and Security industries. Forty people participated in this event which was organized by its Global Institute for Higher Studies in Social Sciences and delivered in Santo Domingo. The objective was to provide the tourism and hotel sectors with basic knowledge on tsunamis, the national response protocols and elements for their preparedness and response plans. The format of the course included lectures as well as hands on exercises for the development of plans and responding to local and regional tsunamis. Josefina Reynoso of FUNGLODE and General Luis Luna Paulino, Chair of the National Emergency Commission emphasized that although tsunamis occur infrequently, the impact could be devastating and the task to prepare for such an event has to be ongoing. Dominican Republic has been affected by local and distant tsunamis. In 1946 two tsunamis are reported to have caused the death of over 1800 people along its northern coast. Currently, the county receives over 4 million visitors a year, 1.5 of which are US citizens. They are mostly attracted by its beautiful beaches where almost the entire tourism infrastructure is concentrated. The NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP), Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) and UNESCO IOC Tsunami Program developed the syllabus and coordinated with the local experts and stakeholders from the Civil Defense, National Meteorological Office, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Ministry of Environment and Global Matrix Corporation for the organization and delivery of the course. Given the positive feedback, FUNGLODE has already requested the CTWP, UNESCO and PRSN to help co-organize additional courses in the summer of 2014 with deliveries in key tourist areas. The syllabus and material used for this course could also serve as the base for other trainings for the tourism sector.
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.