In the past two decades, earthquakes and tsunamis were the
deadliest form of disasters accounting for 58% of total
disaster deaths, according to the Human Cost of Disasters
report, released this year by the UN Office for Disaster Risk
Reduction (UNDRR). During this time, the 2004 Indian Ocean
Tsunami was the single largest disaster by death toll, resulting
in the deaths of 226,400 people in twelve Asian and African
While the physical damage caused by the tsunami has been all but
erased, its influence on disaster risk reduction, and disaster
preparedness planning more specifically, continues to today.
In line with the theme for the 2020 International Day for Disaster
Risk Reduction, this year’s theme for World Tsunami Awareness Day
(WTAD), which was observed on the 5th of November, was also around
disaster risk governance and planning.
Speaking at a regional WTAD commemoration event WTAD commemoration event, co-organized by
UNDRR and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP) on 5 November, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN
Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, said:
“COVID-19 is an important reminder that risks are not local but can
cascade to other parts of the system – social, economic and environmental.
Therefore, managing risks and raising resilience across all the seventeen
SDGs holds the key for a sustainable recovery.”
This point was elaborated by Mr. Animesh Kumar, Officer-in-Charge and
Deputy Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, who said:
“Disasters can occur simultaneously or cascade, resulting in dual and
compounded impacts. Further, increased vulnerability at the community
level due to COVID-19 can exacerbate the impact of tsunamis in the near
future. This requires us to adopt a more inclusive risk governance
approaches to break the silos between departments and sectors.”
In August 2020, the villages of Venkatraipur and Noliasahi in the Indian
state of Odisha became the first communities in the Indian Ocean region
to obtain the Tsunami Ready recognition.
The topic of the webinar took on increased significance in the aftermath
of the 30 October earthquake that impacted Turkey and Greece and caused
a tsunami that flooded streets in the city of Izmir in Turkey.
“We pray for those who have suffered and wish them the strength to overcome
this tragedy, and let us take this recent event as a continuous reminder
of the importance of being Tsunami Ready communities,” said Professor
Shahbaz Khan, Director and Representatives of the UNESCO Office in Jakarta,
This point was emphasized by Mr. Tanabodi Krongyuti, a Director at Thailand’s
National Disaster Warning Center, who supervised the tsunami drill and noted that:
“The school evacuation plan is in line with the national strategy - the national
plan for disaster prevention and mitigation - provincial-level plan and the
While tsunamis are rare events, they are the deadliest and costliest hazards
when they do happen. That is why it is critical that the region invest, not
only in strengthening education and community preparedness to close the ‘last mile’
of early warning systems, but also increase investment in resilient infrastructure,
regional joint planning, and multi-stakeholder risk governance systems.
Combined together, these measures will not only save lives but also reduce
the economic costs, when a tsunami does occur.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System