Project: Strengthening of the Regional Tsunami Early Warning System: preparations in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Perú (2012-2013)

The majority of the biggest and most devastating tsunamis have taken place in the Pacific Ocean. This is due to the fact that the Pacific Ocean covers over one third of the planet’s surface and is surrounded by an area with significant tectonic instability comprised of a series of mountain ranges, ocean trenches, and strings of islands that comprise the “Pacific ring of fire” where the majority of earthquakes take place.

This is why the Pacific coast of South America -- where Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are located -- is one of the regions most susceptible to a tsunami. However, since they rarely happen, the communities that live in these coastal areas often underestimate or ignore the risk.

Tsunamis are a highly destructive force and, when they happen, the loss of lives, the number of people injured, and the damage to infrastructure can be extremely high, as happened with the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the tsunami in Chile in 2010 and the tsunami in Japan in 2011.

The project
In order to support governments in reducing the vulnerability of coastal regions when faced with a tsunami, the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), together with the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS) and the UNESCO Offices in Lima and Quito, have been implementing the project “Strengthening of the Regional Tsunami Early Warning System: preparations in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru,” which is to be implemented in the framework of the Seventh Plan of Action for South America of the Disaster Preparedness Program (DIPECHO VII) of the European Community Humanitarian Office Directorate General (DG-ECHO). This project follows the results obtained in the previous project DIPECHO VI “Learning and Adaptation to Tsunamis in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Chile.”

The objective of the new system is to strengthen the sub-regional and national tsunami early warning systemswith interconnected strategies on sub-regional, national and local levels. In this area there is collaborative work with the oceanographic and seismological institutes, education ministries and national disaster preparation and attention offices in each country.

To attain this objective, the following results are expected to be reached:

Maximum coordination between national counterparts, as well as with DIPECHO partners in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru..
Exchange of information and regional network established between education ministries, tsunami early warning systems, seismological institutes and national risk management systems.
Regional communications protocol for tsunami early warning on the southeast Pacific coast.

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