World Tsunami Awareness Day 2018 commemorates today, Monday the 5th of November; a day to value and signify the importance of Tsunami Preparedness worldwide. Tsunamis although they happen rarely, they do exist with impacts that are deadly and consequences that are inescapable, overwhelming and depressing in the sense that not only they pose devastating physical threats, but do so significantly on people, socially, economically and psychologically. Therefore, the Disaster Management Office through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment strongly believes and takes into serious consideration the very essence and importance of continuous and effective tsunami education, awareness and preparedness that contributes very much in saving lives of our families and communities via government, non government bodies and development partners.
Owing to its geographic location that’s within the vicinity of the Tongan trench, the source of local tsunamis, Samoa, with 70% of its populations settling and residing in low lying tsunami hazardous coastal areas remains very vulnerable to tsunami hazards. Samoa is also vulnerable to distant tsunamis as it sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, an active area of volcanism and seismic activity worldwide. Similar to all natural disasters, tsunamis threaten vulnerable groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly as reported in 2009 when an 8.1 magnitude submarine earthquake took place along the Tongan trench subduction zone in the Samoan Islands region. Henceforth all the more reason to execute and implement Tsunami Education and Awareness programmes as much as possible across the nation. This is believed to be the most effective medium to ensure that Samoa communities be well informed, ready and always prepared in response to such deadly and plausible tsunami threats. Tsunamis are unavoidable, but we could reduce the potential risks on people and properties if we are well informed and be able to anticipate such disasters and threats and be informed of safety and protection procedures to follow.
COMMUNITY-TSUNAMI PREPAREDNESS ACTIVITIES IN PROGRESS-CDCRM
Through the CDCRM Programme that’s currently been executed and delivered to the Samoan communities, the government has envisaged it to be a very ideal, effective an efficient programme to enhance preparedness of Samoa communities in the event of any disaster including tsunamis. DMO on behalf of the government coordinates and takes the leading role in the execution of the programme and coordination of all response agencies to include Police, FESA, MOH, MWCSD, NOLA, Red Cross, the Samoa Meteorology Division and ADRA as one of the key implementing agencies. The support of these respective agencies remains a profound and important aspect of the programme as these agencies will help train village response teams on their roles and responsibilities should any tsunami for instance, happens. It informs communities, builds capacity and raises awareness on tsunami preparedness. The last component of the programme includes an operational simulation exercise that tests the roles and responsibilities of village response teams based on the trainings and skills they were trained on. Communities are shown their evacuation routes towards safe evacuation areas and warning measures and methods to evacuate etc. This also enhances the knowledge and understanding of communities on their overall role as the first line of response before the government and first responders step in, so they could utilize their own resources and capabilities to respond. The CDCRM then allows communities to establish and develop their own Village Disaster Plans that are eventually activated in the event of a disaster including tsunamis.