The events of September 28, when an earthquake and tsunami devastated the city of Palu in Indonesia, are a grim reminder of the work that remains to be done if we are to minimize the human and economic cost of tsunamis. This includes strengthening national and local disaster risk reduction strategies, ensuring buildings and critical infrastructure are resilient, improving early warning systems and evacuation plans, and alerting the private sector to its role in mitigating disaster risks. Moreover, more needs to be done to make disaster risk reduction inclusive and responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable - children, women, persons with disability and older people, who remain disproportionally impacted by disasters.
The good news is that progress is being made in the Asia-Pacific region through new initiatives and projects to mitigate the risk of tsunamis and other hazards. Here is a round up of a just few recent examples:
• On 5 November, the Thai Public Broadcasting Service launched their Disaster Communication Development Center to serve a coordination mechanism between the government and the media to improve the dissemination of timely and accurate information to the public before and during disasters.
• The Government of Australia released its 2018 Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessment (PTHA). As the first update in ten years, this new assessment will inform Australia’s infrastructure resilience planning and risk mitigation strategies, as well as disaster management and evacuation plans.
• UNDP and the Government of Japan are helping schools and emergency services in the Asia-Pacific region improve their preparedness for tsunamis by conducting drills. The project has conducted over a 100 school awareness drills in 18 tsunami prone countries.
• As part of its the National Disaster Awareness week, the Government of Fiji installed eight new tsunami sirens and conducted evacuation drills involving nine agencies.