Five regions targeted for Tsunami Preparedness Project

Jul 19, 2017

Professor Hugh Davies from the University of Papua New Guinea presents a book on the Aitape Tsunami of 1998 to the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr Mitsugu Yachidate and a launch of a new tsunami preparedness project, funded by the Japanese Government at the National Disaster Centre on July 17, 2017. © Lypenson Soweni/ The National.

Port Moresby, July 17, 2017 –  Five schools in tsunami-prone regions in Papua New Guinea (PNG) will benefit from a new tsunami preparedness project developed under the leadership of the National Disaster Centre (NDC).

Schools in the provinces and regions of Manus, East New Britain, East Sepik, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and Milne Bay will be chosen, based on the high risk and exposure to tsunami hazards facing communities in those parts of the country. 

The “Reducing the Loss of Lives of School Children from Tsunamis in Asia-Pacific Region” project, which is funded by the Japanese Government through UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub, will build on existing materials, standardising key messages for tsunami awareness education in schools, and using current guidance to conduct drills for the schoolchildren.

The project and a tsunami awareness poster were launched at a ceremony this week with a group of Government agencies, development partners and donors at the National Disaster Centre.

At the launch on 17 July, the Acting Director of the PNG National Disaster Centre, Mr Martin Mose said Tsunami drills are one of the most effective ways to educate schoolchildren so they can identify the relevant tsunami signs and know how to respond when it occurs.

The event also commemorated the Aitape Tsunami of 1998, one of the deadliest and worst disasters in the history of PNG. The earthquake off the north coast of the country in Sanduan Province, was followed by a destructive tsunami which claimed lives of more than 2,000 people living in coastal areas of the region. This event sparked the beginning of enhanced disaster preparedness and response in PNG.  

In commemoration of the Aitape Tsunami, Professor Hugh Davies from the University of Papua New Guinea highlighted the need to ‘know one’s enemy’. He said the enemies are the hazards that we live with and people need to be familiar with them and know what to do before, during and after.  

Mr Mitsugu Yachidate, the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy said the Government of Japan was pleased to support the Government of PNG to increase the level of awareness of tsunamis to better prepare population for future possible events.

On behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Disaster Risk Management Technical Specialist Mr Khusrav Sharifov stated that tsunami preparedness was vital given they occur naturally without warning: “Tsunamis do not have boundaries nor do they wait for political decisions. Therefore, the best thing to do is to ensure preparedness at different levels. We’re a proud supporter of this project because it educates our children, so as the leaders of the future, they will be better prepared for any disasters.”

At the closing of the event, the Chairman of the National Disaster Committee Mr Dickson Guina highlighted the importance of tsunami preparedness in schools saying: “By educating children about tsunami hazards - the signs and how to prepare and respond and by knowing and practicing the drills -  children can pass the safety messages to their families and communities and spread the messages.”

PNG is one of 18 countries involved in the one-year project and a technical working group established under NDC will implement the project and contextualise and adapt tsunami preparedness materials so they are suitable for PNG.

Contact information

Alice Plate, UNDP Communications Specialist, +675 7332 4828, alice.plate@undp.org

Slide
The Acting Director of the PNG National Disaster Centre, Mr Martin Mose (centre) helps launch a new tsunami preparedness project will benefit five schools in tsunami-prone provinces and regions. (From L to R) He was joined by Professor Hugh Davies from the University of Papua New Guinea, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr Mitsugu Yachidate, Chairman of the National Disaster Committee Mr Dickson Guina and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Disaster Risk Management Technical Specialist Mr Khusrav Sharifov on July 17, 2017. © Lypenson Soweni/ The National.
Slide
(L to R) Chairman of the National Disaster Committee Mr Dickson Guina and Assistance Director of the NDC Mr Kaigabu Kamnanaya unveil a new tsunami warning poster at the National Disaster Centre on July 17, 2017. © Lypenson Soweni/ The National.

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