Critical gaps remain in early warning 10 years after Indian Ocean tsunami – UN

Aerial view of the vast destruction of the Indonesian coast caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. UN Photo/E. Schneider

15 December 2014 – A decade after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck, the Asia-Pacific region remains highly disaster prone and critical gaps remain in early warning, especially in reaching the most vulnerable people and remote communities, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said today.

“Ten years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, much has been done to fill gaps in risk reduction, disaster preparedness and early warning systems,” Shamika N. Sirimanne, ESCAP’s Director of Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division said in a press release issued today.

Ms. Sirimanne noted that a key lesson from the 26 December 2004 tsunami was the importance of early warning, and highlighted the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System in 2011 as an important milestone towards building greater resilience to disasters in Asia-Pacific.

But Asia-Pacific remains highly disaster prone, despite progress being made in building resilience, she said at a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand last week marking the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters on record.

Critical gaps remain in early warning and additional investments are required particularly at the local level, according to ESCAP.

“Reaching the most vulnerable people and remote communities at the ‘last mile’ with timely warnings is critical,” added Ms. Sirimanne. “An efficient end-to-end system is yet to be realized.”

ESCAP noted it plays a significant role in galvanizing regional efforts, promoting new technologies and supporting early warning projects through its Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness.

The Trust Fund has made contributions to the establishment of regional mechanisms such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia, as well as to the strengthening of warning systems at the national and local levels, according to ESCAP.


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