The UN created this day of observance to start a conversation around innovative approaches to risk reduction. To create a solution we need to understand the problem - what can we do better to prepare coastal areas for a tsunami?
“By the year 2030, an estimated 50 per cent of the world's population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis. Having plans and policies in place to reduce tsunami impacts will help to build more resilience and protect populations at risk. Do you have a national or a local plan in place to anticipate a tsunami?”
The UN created one guideline: Sendai Seven Campaign –"7 targets, 7 years". The guideline began in 2016 and goes until 2022 with indicators of progress. This year's target is to ‘substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020’. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’s goal is to save lives, reduce disaster losses and improve management of disaster risk.
Why does this matter to me, I don’t live near a coastal area
Tsunamis are rare events but can be the costliest among all hazards. The economic losses from disasters can be billions of dollars. This sets back developments which can be even costlier to poorer areas. Let’s not forget the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan cost more than US$235 billion. That is a hard price to pay for developing nations.
Environmentally they have a devastating effect on natural resources and biodiversity. The change of landscape happens as trees, animals, plants, and their shelter are swept away. It is not only the tsunami that changes the landscape but the events that cause them such as volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and coastal rock falls.
Above all, tsunamis destroys human lives. The 2011 Tohoju earthquake claimed the lives of 15,899 people with another 8,000 injured or missing. The UN reports, ‘in the past 100 years, 58 [tsunamis] have claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster, surpassing any other natural hazard.’ To be prepared is crucial. As an outsider, you can help over 700 million people live in low-lying coastal areas and small island developing states exposed to extreme sea-level events by innovating plans, calling on countries to have plans, and increase awareness.
Traveling allows us to visit these coastal areas, but when we leave we should have made a positive impact. Create conversations that save lives!