Evodia’s ward are well informed of tsunami

Apr 6, 2018

Evodia Stanley, Ward Member for Ialakua Ward in Kokopo District. Raluana Primary School is in the vicinity of Ialakua Ward. ©Kim Allen/UNDP (PNG)

52- year old Evodia Stanley is a woman with a lot on her mind.

As a mother and grandmother, her family’s welfare is her main priority and Evodia does everything in her power to ensure they are safe and well. Since her election as the first female local level government member for her Ialakua community, Evodia’s concerns, now more than ever, include her family and wider community.

But there are some things that are beyond Evodia’s powers, such as natural disasters. Three weeks ago (on March 9th) a 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook her community and the wider region in her part of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Fortunately, there were no casualties.

Ialakua is located in East New Britain Province (ENB), home to active volcanoes, called Vulcan and Tavuvur, which are located on the Pacific Ring of Fire. This makes Ialakua and the rest of ENB highly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.

While preventing earthquakes and tsunamis are beyond Evodia’s powers, it is within her means to ensure her constituents, particularly the children, know what to do in the event of an earthquake or a tsunami. Considering safety of children and wider community, Evodia was a keen supporter to increase awareness amongst her family and community members in Ialakua.

Then, an opportunity was made possible thanks to the awareness drive on earthquake and tsunami preparedness through collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), National Department of Education (NDoE), National Disaster Centre (NDC), Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management, and the Provincial Disaster Office. The awareness drive included face-to-face interactions on earthquake and tsunami drills between experts and teachers, as well as provincial and local level government officials. Following initial school and site assessments, earthquake and tsunami drills were conducted in George Brown Secondary and Raluana Primary Schools. Raluana Primary School is in the vicinity of Evodia’s community.

Out of the 697 students of Raluana Primary, 120 students in grade five were selected to participate in the tsunami drills.  Apart from them, there were 196 observers which included elementary school students, community members, youths, and representatives from different sectors in the province.

During the tsunami drills, students were taught on how to identify early warning signs of tsunami, what to do in case of earthquakes and tsunami. The schools were also supported to develop their own emergency response and evacuation plans.

“I am grateful to all the partners involved in the tsunami drills,” said Ms. Stanley.

“I am also proud that the tsunami drills were carried out in my ward. The youth and community representatives from my ward were involved in the drills and learned important life skills. We will share what we have learnt here and inform our families and community groups about earthquake and tsunami preparedness,” she added.

UNDPs Disaster Risk Management project is assisting the NDoE and NDC to carry out tsunami drills in three schools, two in East New Britain and one in Milne Bay Province.

This is part of ‘Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunami in the Asia Pacific’ funded by the Japanese Government. PNG is one of 18 countries participating in this regional project.

Students, teachers and the community evacuate the school during tsunami drills by running to higher ground. ©Kim Allen/UNDP (PNG)
Students evacuate their classrooms to join up with everyone in an open space during an earthquake before evacuating to higher ground. ©Kim Allen/UNDP (PNG)
Tsunami drill session with students and teachers. ©Kim Allen/UNDP (PNG)

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