DIPECHO VII Project Learning and adaptation to Tsunami : impact on coastal communities in the Bio Bio region in Chile
On March 11, 2011, residents of coastal communities in the Bío Bío region (Chile) dawned on alert.
The national and international news that day indicated a tsunami would reach their shores as a consequence of the 9.0 earthquake in front of Honshu coast in Japan.
In 1960, following a 9.5 earthquake in Valdivia, Chile "sent" a tsunami to Japan that killed 138 people and affected coastal infrastructure in its path. This memory increased the fear of the people in the Bio Bio region awaiting the arrival of the Japanese tsunami. After receiving a tsunami warning issued by the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy of Chile (SHOA), the Regional Emergency Office of Bio Bio, organized an orderly evacuation to safe areas, using signals and established routes, which had been revised in 2010 under the DIPECHO VI Project of UNESCO "Learning and adaptation to Tsunami Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Chile." At that time, community leaders, teachers and students of the Bio Bio coastal communes were trained in disaster risk management for tsunami.
In addition, the local and national tsunami warning system was strengthened with the updating of contingency plans and the installation of sirens in risk areas. This project also contributed to the exchange of lessons learned between the four countries of the south pacific.
During the training workshops in the most vulnerable schools of Coronel, one of the students acknowledged that his school needed students to be trained and know what to do in case of tsunami. By becoming actively involved in the disaster risk reduction in their school the students in fact promote processes of change in their community. In the words of the official of the Regional Emergency Office of Bio Bio, Gilda Grandón "...in the towns of Penco, Tomé and Coronel, where the DIPECHO project was implemented during 2009-2010, the population adopted the appropriate behavior and community emergency committees showed great progress. There is no doubt that the project helped improve the capacity of response to tsunami in these areas."
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