Fort Liberte - Haiti

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Fort-Liberté (Haiti) declared ‘Tsunami Ready’

Fort-Liberté is a city on the north-eastern coast of the island of Haiti, with a population of about 20,000.
In 1842, the city was severely hit by a tsunami and the threat of another disaster cannot be ruled out.

According to modelling, at least 2,000 people would be directly exposed to flooding in the event of a local tsunami, with response time inevitably very short. To meet this threat, the municipality organized tsunami simulation and evacuation exercises for the population, with the support of UNESCO and relevant institutions. Fort-Liberté now has ‘Tsunami Ready’ recognition.

The qualification is the result of joint efforts by the Haitian Directorate of Civil Protection and Maritime and Navigation Service (SEMANAH), UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) and its Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC), and various international partners including the national meteorological service of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP).

Achieving ‘Tsunami Ready’ recognition means meeting various requirements to prepare for a possible natural disaster. For example, the city has put in place local tsunami operational procedures to train 50 local and national focal points to receive and disseminate tsunami warnings. It has also mapped out evacuation routes and flood areas in the event of a disaster. In addition, with help from UNESCO and funding support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), tsunami warning signs were installed and preparedness materials were distributed to the population.

This recognition is an incentive to pursue training and prevention work: according to the seismic data available, most of Haiti’s coastal cities and populations are indeed exposed to the risk of tsunamis. UNESCO will therefore continue to assist the population and coordinate similar awareness programmes in collaboration with local and national organizations and international partners.