Integrating awareness and response capacity for tsunami-prone coastal zones in Haiti
The Caribbean region is highly exposed and vulnerable to tsunami hazard. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration catalogue registers 75 tsunamis over the last 500 years in the region. Considering the significant growth of coastal population and the increasing level of economic and tourist activities, the countries in the Caribbean region could be severely affected in case of major tsunamis.
The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE EWS) was established in 2005 as a subsidiary body of the UNESCO-IOC, in order to provide assistance on tsunami risk reduction in the region and oversee the establishment of a tsunami early warning system.
Although tsunami historical records provide evidence of the destructive impacts of tsunamis in Haiti, this hazard remains unknown by large segments of the population. Important progress has been achieved by UNESCO-IOC in educating the population about tsunamis as since 2010, UNESCO-IOC has supported the National System for Disaster Risk Management in Haiti (SNGRD) to integrate tsunami hazard in its agenda.
In partnership with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate-General (ECHO), UNESCO-IOC conducted from 2011 to 2012 the project "Strengthening Haitian Early Warning Services for Coastal Hazards" in order to build awareness, appropriate practices and emergency response capacity for tsunami risks at community and institutional levels in selected areas of Haiti. Basic inundation models discussed by local authorities through a participative approach were used as a pilot experience to start developing evacuation maps and install tsunami sign posting in the north of Haiti
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