» Kingdom of Netherlands supports community preparedness and tsunami awareness in the Caribbean
22.03.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Kingdom of Netherlands supports community preparedness and tsunami awareness in the Caribbean

© UNESCO - Participants at the Regional Training Workshop on Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Enhanced Tsunami Products.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to raise a village into a tsunami-ready community? In 2017, the Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC) of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) made considerable progress to improve early warning systems, public awareness and preparedness in the region thanks to a €80,000 contribution from the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Located in Barbados, CTIC is an organ of the UNESCO/IOC-led Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE EWS), with the mission to mitigate the impact of tsunamis and coastal hazards in the region through tsunami awareness, training and educational activities.

The funding contributed mainly to the organization of the Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum (3-4 April 2017, Antigua and Barbuda) and the Regional Training Workshop on Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Enhanced Tsunami Products for ICG/CARIBE EWS (31 October-2 November 2017, Cartagena, Colombia).

To support the development of an enhanced collaborative and coordinated approach around school safety among the region’s education sector, the Ministerial Forum launched the Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI). This Initiative will strengthen the framework put forward by UNISDR’s Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools and more globally contribute to the Samoa Action Plan for SIDS, the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

A Regional Road Map for School Safety is also under development to outline the actions required to successfully create an enabling environment and safe learning facilities, as well as implement school disaster management and risk reduction education.

On a more technical level, the Regional Training Workshop sought to improve tsunami preparedness and the capacity of tsunami warning focal points, national tsunami warning centres and tsunami emergency responders to effectively receive, analyse and take appropriate action in response to tsunami forecast products for the Caribbean and its adjacent regions. The event covered topics such as warning messages and alerting, evacuation concepts and planning, awareness strategies and lessons learned from the extremely active 2017 hurricane season. Over 84% of respondents found the training and resource materials to be very effective. 

The contribution was also used to advance the development of the CTIC website, which aims to be a regionally focused digital platform for accessing CTIC resources and tsunami and other coastal hazards information, and the planning of the annual CARIBE WAVE exercise for 2018, which saw the participation of at least 383,560 people. This regional exercise provides an opportunity for national disaster management officials and hundreds of thousands of the region’s population to test their national plans and procedures. The 2017 exercise is the largest international tsunami exercise to date, with over 740,000 participants from 32 nations and 15 territories.

Furthermore, the funding from the Kingdom of Netherlands helped strengthen community preparedness and awareness through CTIC’s support to the implementation and promotion of the UNESCO/IOC Tsunami Ready Programme, a performance-based community recognition programme, in Omoa, Honduras; St. Patrick’s, Grenada; and Fort-Liberté, Haiti.

For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Aliaga (b.aliaga(at)unesco.org

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