The United Nations, the Government of Japan and the Government of PNG are working together to improve tsunami and multiple risk preparedness plans for COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges in disaster risk reduction, disaster response and planning for safe evacuation in the event of disasters, including tsunamis.
World Tsunami Day, celebrated on November 5 each year, promotes a global culture of tsunami awareness, preparedness and response to build resilience across generations.
Launched by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, World Tsunami Awareness Day was inspired by Japan’s expertise in tsunami response in early warning systems, public action and post-reconstruction. disaster to reduce future impacts.
Disaster and tsunami preparedness plans need to be reviewed and updated to address any urgent challenges brought about by current events, including the pandemic.
COVID safety guidelines now include mask wear, physical distancing, and hygienic practices in disaster planning.
“The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has made people more vulnerable to dealing with socio-economic and environmental disasters,” said Dirk Wagener, UNDP Resident Representative.
The pandemic has posed new challenges to disaster preparedness and response with a significant number of students around the world, including in PNG, continuing to learn from home or other places, it is also increasingly no longer necessary to strengthen community preparedness.
“With the current pandemic situation and the restrictions it places on travel and public gatherings, it is very necessary to update existing preparedness plans in schools and communities, so that people become resilient to tsunamis, pandemics and other dangers while observing the ‘Niupela Pasin’ within their own communities, ”he said.
In 2017, supported by the Government of Japan, the Bangkok Regional Center of the United Nations Development Program launched the “Partnerships for Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunamis in the Asia-Pacific Region”.
Known as Project Tsunami, the goal is to mitigate the impacts of tsunamis by strengthening school preparedness in 18 disaster-prone countries in the region.
PNG was chosen to implement the Tsunami project along with 17 other countries including: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
The tsunami project operates in the islands of New Guinea and southern regions, in PNG.
In 2017-18, a total of 3,325 students and community members were trained in tsunami preparedness and response in PNG. In 2019-2021, primary and secondary schools in the eastern provinces of New Britain and Milne Bay, and Sohano Island in the Bougainville Autonomous Region joined the tsunami project.
In 2019, the Milne Bay Provincial Administration also pledged to have all schools in the province conduct tsunami exercises and observe World Tsunami Day every year.
Phase three of the tsunami project will build on the impact and lessons learned to reach the most vulnerable to make informed decisions on risks for individual and community preparedness and transform the way disaster preparedness is managed – in intensifying and institutionalizing preparedness and response efforts in the “new normal context.”
Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the project commemorates World Tsunami Day via official UNDP social media platforms using the hashtags #TsunamiDay and #OnlyTogether.
Funded by the Japanese government, the tsunami project is implemented by the United Nations Development Program, the National Disaster Center, the Department of Education and the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory Branch of the Department of mining policy and geohazard management (DMPGM).
DMPGM is the state agency responsible for earthquake and tsunami risk monitoring and assessment in the PNG region.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNDP Asia-Pacific are committed to supporting tsunami awareness and preparedness.