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In Barbados, UNESCO renews focus on capacity building to prepare Caribbean communities for tsunamis and other coastal hazards

Date: 2 September 2022

Rolling out its Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme (IOC-UNESCO TRRP), UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission hosted a Tsunami Ready Mapping Workshop in Bridgetown, Barbados 8-12 August 2022, and co-organized a series of community, national and partner engagement activities.

The week of activities (8-13 August 2022) was organized via the IOC-UNESCO Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC), in association with key regional partners, including the Caribbean Office of the International Information Center (ITIC), led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National University of Costa Rica, and the Government of Barbados.

The Hon. Wilfred Abrahams M.P., Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Barbados, in his feature address at the Workshop’s Opening Ceremony traced the long history of partnership between Barbados and the IOC-UNESCO, including Barbados’ hosting of the inaugural Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) meeting of the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) in 2005, as well as for hosting the CTIC throughout various phases since 2006. 

“For us in this region, I expect that the CTIC will continue to positively impact our preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery efforts for the tsunami hazard.  I submit that we must utilise our energy and our talent to uplift this organization and the region in order to bring change to the lives of those who require assistance. The challenges which disasters present, as a consequence of hazards such as tsunamis, are enormous but not insurmountable. Through cooperation and concrete action we can persevere and in so doing, build capacity and develop more resilient, safe communities,” said the Hon. Wilfred Abrahams M.P.

The Minister further highlighted the importance of capacity building initiatives such as the workshop and side events in contributing to the IOC-led UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030,  and the fulfillment of its goal that 100% of communities at risk to be prepared for and resilient to tsunamis by 2030 through programmes like Tsunami Ready. 

workshop opening

Workshop Opening Ceremony Group Photo l-r (front row): Pablo Torres, Humanitarian Logistics Specialist, United States Agency for International Development/Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA); Mrs. Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, Manager, ITIC-CAR; the Honourable Wilfred Abrahams M.P., Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Barbados; Ms. Kerry Hinds, Director, Department of Emergency Management, Barbados; Dr. Leo Brewster, Director, Coastal Zone Management Unit, Barbados; and Ms. Alison Brome, Programme Officer Tsunamis and Other Coastal Hazards, UNESCO/IOC-CTIC

See additional photos from the activities in Barbados in our Flickr Gallery.

The workshop included a study tour, focused on the community of Christ Church West, which is being nominated for Tsunami Ready Recognition. The tour was led by Dr. Leo Brewster, Director, CZMU and members of the Christ Church West District Emergency Organisation (DEO), who presented a draft tsunami evacuation map developed by the community, and showcased the integration of multi-hazard approach to coastal risk management.

Other activities included an evening community engagement session, two training sessions for the Barbados Meteorological Services on the effective receipt and analysis of tsunami warning messages.

Last stop of the week, IOC-UNESCO and national authorities headed to the west coast community of Porters to Holders Hill St. James for a whistle stop tour of a UNESCO project supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), which included a demonstration of potential evacuation routes and assembly points at the southern Holetown Boardwalk.

The week’s workshop and other activities sought to enhance capacity building in the nine communities currently implementing the IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready Programme in the region, across eight countries. The work is financially supported by NORAD, the Government of Australia, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).