While rare, when they do occur, tsunamis are the deadliest of all hazards. In the past 100 years, 58 of them have claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster, surpassing any other natural hazard. Over the past two decades, tsunamis have accounted for almost 10 percent of economic losses from disasters, setting back development gains, especially in countries that border the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
According to the United Nations, by the 2030 and an estimated 50 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and Tsunamis. Scaling up international cooperation to developing countries will help ensure that 100% of communities at risk of tsunami are prepared for and resilient to tsunamis by 2030. Reducing tsunami risk is an investment and not a cost
The current COVID-19 response has further resulted in a shift of priorities, alterations in work processes and venues (home office), physical distancing, self-isolation and quarantine measures, as well as temporary lockdowns of entire communities. Ensuring that agreed Tsunami preparedness measures are in place and adapted to COVID-19 conditions before a Tsunami event (there will be no time to do so during an event) is a challenge, under the current context across the world.
Commemoration of the World Tsunami Awareness Day in Sri Lanka – 5 th and 8 th November 2021
The United Nations, through UN Resolution 70/203 adopted on 22 December 2015, has designated November 5 th as the World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) . It is dedicated to promoting Tsunami awareness around the world and sharing innovative approaches to risk reduction.
In 2021, WTAD is an opportunity to advocate for reducing tsunami risk in Sri Lanka in the context of the “Safe Ocean” outcome of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and the promotion of International Cooperation, the chosen target F for this year’s edition of the Sendai Seven Campaign: “Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the present Framework by 2030. International cooperation is key for deeper political and public understanding as well as involvement in reducing the risks from these coastal natural hazards.
Proposed commemoration activity for 2021 by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), Sri Lanka
Considering the previous years’ global annual commemoration themes of the World Tsunami Awareness day programmes held on 5 th November, Sri Lanka as a country which is planning to gain recognition as a “Tsunami ready country”, is conducting a hybrid (i.e. virtual and with limited physical presence) national event, whilst giving thought to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation and the need to adhere to prevalent health guidelines. The details of the proposed programme are stated below.
Preparedness Planning Division
The key objectives of 2021 commemorations proposed and organised by Sri Lanka together with several
international organisations and other relevant national bodies are as follows:
(1) To create awareness about Tsunamis and associated risks among all stakeholders, from national to
communities at grass route level
(2) To create awarenss on the flow of tsunami threat and warning information from regional service
providers to communities at risk
To promote tsunami Disaster Risk Reduction awareness to inform partnerships and innovation that
unlock and enhance international cooperation
(3) Create awareness on Tsunami warning services, evacuation, and sheltering during COVID-19, and
national and local best practices during COVID-19
(4) To educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources, and to celebrate and
reinforce achievements relating to Tsunami early warning in Sri Lanka
Session 1 – 5 th November 2021
Session title: “Learn, Share, Actions” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic : Progress at the local level, a review
During this session all 14 Assistant Directors (ADs) of DDMCUs will be required to do a 10 minute presentation
(Power Point) on the following aspects.
1. An overview and review of the current status (i.e. level of readiness) with regard to Tsunami
preparedness, alertness, response mechanisms (search and rescue operations and relief measures)
2. General Evacuation plans with details
3. A review of any identified gaps in the current Tsunami alertness and response process
4. Any foreseen practical difficulties in implementing the current sops for Tsunami alertness and response
mechanisms at ground level
5. Suggestions for improvements of the current Tsunami preparedness planning activities/ programmes,
response mechanisms, awareness/ training programmes, relief measures including special health
measures to be adopted considering the current COVID-19 pandemic
Session 2 – 8 th November 2021
Session title: International Cooperation for Tsunami Warning and Mitigation
1. Indian ocean tsunami early warning and mitigation system, its guiding principles, and principal
2. Effective international cooperation to reduce tsunami risk at local level
3. Tsunami Early Warning Dissemination: Flow of tsunami threat and warning information from
regional service providers to communities at risk (Sri Lanka end-to-end Tsunami early earning
and mitigation system)
4. Tsunami ready communities : Examples from India – preparedness of coastal communities for
tsunamis through the Tsunami Ready Programme
5. Tsunami warning services, evacuation, and sheltering during COVID-19, best practices during
6. Panel discussion
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