Local communities join tsunami, disaster response drills

August 24, 2022 - 07:20
Nearly 460 students and teachers and more than 250 households in central Quảng Nam Province attended tsunami and multi-disaster response drills, which started on Tuesday.
Students of Lê Lợi Secondary School in Quảng Nam Province join the drill. — Photo courtesy of the UNDP

QUẢNG NAM — Nearly 460 students and teachers and more than 250 households in central Quảng Nam Province attended tsunami and multi-disaster response drills, which started on Tuesday.

The two-day event was organised by the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Representatives of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention, UNDP, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Quảng Nam Provincial Department of Training and Education, and teachers and students from other schools also participated.

According to the National Plan to Respond to Earthquakes and Tsunami and the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 645/QĐ-TTg, the Manila Trench poses the greatest risk for earthquakes in Việt Nam. When a quake with a maximum magnitude of 9.3 strikes in this region, the resulting tsunami risk would affect all of Việt Nam’s coastal provinces.

In such a case, Thừa Thiên Huế, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Phú Yên, Khánh Hòa, and Bình Thuận would be potentially subject to a level 4 disaster risk (equivalent to wave heights between 8-16 m). A tsunami would arrive at the shore within 2-4.5 hours and could reach 2-3km inland.

To respond to the risk of tsunamis, the Government of Việt Nam has focused on tsunami warning and response for coastal communities by implementing several solutions, evacuation plans, and measures at all levels of government and in schools and coastal towns.

“Today’s tsunami and multi-disaster response drills are no exception. It is one of UNDP’s efforts to strengthen local capacity to respond to tsunamis and multi-hazard disasters in the context of the pandemic. I hope that after the drills, local authorities and schools, in addition to being fully equipped with knowledge of how to deal with tsunamis, will also have the practical experience to prepare for future disasters,” said Nguyễn Văn Tiến, Deputy General Director of the Việt Nam Disaster Management Authority.

Patrick Haverman, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Việt Nam, stated: “Students are the future of the community and the country, so it’s really important that you have the support and protection you need to be safe. Having the knowledge and skills to know what to do in disasters may save your lives and the lives of your friends."

“The school and community drills have proven very effective in reducing the effects of disasters such as storms, sea level rise, floods, and tsunamis. As a result, first and foremost, schools and the coastal communities must have a response plan in place that tells us who does what and when. Next, regular drills should test this plan and ensure that students, teachers, and local people know what they need to do.”

Takashi Suzuki, an expert from JICA, said: “In the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, more than 18,000 people died. However, in one city, all the elementary and secondary schools managed to evacuate to higher ground before the tsunami hit, saving their lives. The students of these schools were well trained."

"When secondary school students thought a tsunami was coming, they took the initiative to shout “tsunami” to the others in the school and to run to the hill. Then they reached the designated site, but after that, they decided to go to a higher place because they had learned the importance of doing their best. In the end, the tsunami came just in front of that spot, and they managed to save themselves.”

The project titled “Response to Tsunami – Multi Natural Disasters” in Việt Nam is part of the UNDP regional project “Partnership for Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunamis in the Asia-Pacific Region,” which is funded by the Government of Japan and being implemented in 16 Asia-Pacific countries, including Việt Nam.

The project contributes to achieving the targets of the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to reduce lives lost, the number of people affected, and economic damage from natural and human-induced hazards.

It also aims to achieve UNDP’s goal of helping vulnerable regions to adapt to climate change by integrating disaster risk measures into national strategies. — VNS