Tsunami preparedness in the Indian Ocean continues to progress

With enthusiastic responses from 20 Member States of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS), the Capacity Assessment of Tsunami Preparedness Status Report 2018 highlighted considerable progress across all components of the IOTWMS, including the operational tsunami service framework in the Indian Ocean comprising of 3 Tsunami Service Providers (Australia, India, Indonesia) and National Tsunami Warning Centres of 25 Member States.

Substantive progress has also been made in developing risk assessment guidelines, enhancing monitoring networks, organizing biennial tsunami drills and creating public awareness material. Tsunami response capacities continue to be enhanced through regional capacity development workshops focused on development of tsunami evacuation maps, plans and standard operating procedures, as well as the recent piloting of the Tsunami Ready community recognition programme.

Nonetheless, the IOTWMS is not a static system and must improve, evolve and adapt to serve the needs of its Member States. In this context, the 2018 assessment identified capacity gaps and future support requirements in the broad areas of a) policies, plans and guidelines; b) risk assessment and reduction; c) detection, warning and dissemination; and d) awareness preparedness and response. The detailed Capacity Assessment of Tsunami Preparedness Status Report 2018 together with responses of member States, as well as a succinct Executive Summary have been prepared for wide communication to all stakeholders.

The 2018 assessment was conducted through an online survey more than 13 years after the initial assessment of the state of tsunami preparedness in Indian Ocean countries following the Bowing day tsunami (IOC/INF-1219), which provided critical inputs to the eventual design and development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS).

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), through the IOTWMS Secretariat and the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center (IOTIC) will continue to coordinate and facilitate the efforts of Member States and Donor agencies to bridge gaps in capacities and strengthen the end-to-end tsunami warning and mitigation system in the Indian Ocean. The IOC would like to congratulate the ICG/IOTWMS, its Task Team on Capacity Assessment of Tsunami Preparedness, and, most importantly, all Member States and experts who contributed to this important assessment.