On 7 August 2020, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission granted Tsunami Ready recognition to the first communities in the Indian Ocean region: Venkatraipur and Noliasahi villages in Odisha State, India. The certification recognizes the two communities’ success at organizing and completing collaborative tsunami preparedness initiatives involving community leaders, national and local emergency management agencies, and citizen groups.
“Our community would like to thank UNESCO-IOC for this recognition, and for enhancing the sustainability of our community against tsunami hazard,” remarked Appa Rao, Community Leader at Venkatraipur Village.
Tsunami Ready recognition is achieved through satisfying multiple initiatives. These include conducting a community tsunami-risk reduction programme, designation and mapping of tsunami hazard zones, public display of tsunami information, easily understood tsunami evacuation maps, outreach and public education materials, participation in mock drills, community emergency plans, and the presence of reliable 24-hour early warning system.
Collectively, the Tsunami Ready certification check-list aims to improve tsunami preparedness in coastal communities, to minimize the loss of life and property, and to ensure a structural and systematic approach to building community preparedness.
The Tsunami Ready Programme is administered by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) through its Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS). In order to promote Tsunami Ready piloting, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC), together with the IOTWMS Secretariat, developed regional guidelines and conducted four regional Trainings on Tsunami Emergency Maps, Plans and Procedures (TEMPP) involving 22 Indian Ocean Member States.
Addressing the new Tsunami Ready communities, Ardito Kodijat (Head of the IOTIC) emphasized the importance of taking the Tsunami Ready certification as a continuous process. “This recognition is an achievement, but not the ending, it is a start of new responsibility to continue to be prepared and be example to the others,” he explained.
In Odisha State, UNESCO’s IOC and the Government of India (via its National Tsunami Ready Board and Ministry of Earth Sciences) recognized the Tsunami Ready recognition for Venkatraipur and Noliasahi through a virtual ceremony. High profile speakers included Dr. Rajeevan, Secretary of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences; Prof. Dwikorita Karnawati, Chair of the ICG/IOTWMS; Dr. Satheesh Shenoi, Vice Chair of UNESCO’s IOC, and Mr. G V V Sarma, Secretary of India’s National Disaster Management Authority.
The authorities congratulated the communities on achieving Tsunami Ready recognition and encouraged wider adaption of this programme for enhancing the safety of all vulnerable communities from coastal hazards.
“Odisha State is motivated to make all 326 villages and urban local bodies Tsunami Ready in 1-years’ time”, said Managing Director P.K. Jena of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority. Coastal communities in other Indian Ocean Member States have also expressed interest in preparing for future tsunami events by fulfilling the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready indicators.
Srinivasa Kumar Tummala, Head of the IOTWMS Secretariat, insisted on the potential for scaling up Tsunami Ready recognition in the region: “Venkatraipur and Noliasahi achieved the distinction of becoming first in the Indian Ocean to become Tsunami Ready, and we hope this recognition by UNESCO-IOC will catalyse wider implementation in other communities in India and the wider Indian Ocean region.”
The Tsunami Ready Programme is a key contribution by UNESCO’s IOC to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, set to officially begin on 1 January 2021, and which aims to build capacities of countries, communities and citizens to reduce and appropriately respond to the risk posed by tsunamis and other ocean-related hazards.
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Watch the full virtual Tsunami Ready recognition ceremony here.
For more information about the Tsunami Ready Programme, please click here.