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November 7, 2022

"The Project for Enhancing the Capacity of Issuing earthquake, Tsunami and Storm Surge Information (VAN-Redi)" World Tsunami Awareness Event in Vanuatu

JICA Van-REDI Project
Project team leader, Michihiko Tonouchi (Mr.)
Short term expert (Project Coordination/Outreach Activity), Yumi Yasaka Schultz (Ms.)

The 5th November is "World Tsunami Awareness Day" every year.

From 2nd to 4th November 2022, the Van-REDI Project, the Project for Enhancing the Capacity of Issuing the Earthquake, Tsunami and Storm Surge Information, conducted the Tsunami awareness activities at Eton village, Efate island where has experienced the Tsunami when Tongan volcano got erupted on 15th January 2022. The Tsunami was around 1m high and came 20-30m inland, the local community said. (Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazard Division or VMGD recorded the highest of 1.4m of Tsunami in Vanuatu, this time.)

National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) , one of the counterparts of Van-REDI project, has organized the International Disaster Risk Reduction Days in this period, therefore, Van-REDI team joined the period, so as another counterpart, VMGD, SHEFA Provincial Government, East Efate Area Council, Eton Village Disaster Risk Reduction Committee, Eton Village Task Force, Vanuatu Police and NGOs.

The technical assistance under the evacuation drill of Van-REDI project has 2 components.

The first is the "enhancement of the capacities of VMGD and NDMO for disseminating relevant data and practical information". By using the new SOP (standard of operation) of Tsunami Warning that recently revised under Van-REDI Project with a collaboration of VMGD, Van-REDI team led by Dr. Osama Kamigaichi and Mr. Masahiro Yamamoto, experts of Earthquake and Tsunami analysis, held the simulation as an in-house training of VMGD, "VMGD confirm the earthquake", "issue Tsunami advisory", "turn on the siren", and "send the evacuation text message to all mobile phones". This is the total simulation in VMGD. VMGD will continue this simulation by themselves from now on, once in 1 or 2 months.

The second is the "enhancement of the capacities of VMGD and NDMO for public awareness activities". At the evacuation drill field, "after the siren sounded, people start the simulation", "move to the evacuation place by confirmation of route", "wait for VMGD to cancel the Tsunami advisory", then "NDMO cleare the evacuation". Generally, the Tsunami evacuation drill targets evacuation itself and learn routes to higher or safer locations. However, the VAN-REDI's evacuation drill includes "everything" (above processes at an earthquake event) from the beginning of the earthquake in VMGD through the cancellation of evacuation by NDMO, to achieve one of the project objects mentioned the above. (In this time, the Eton village dose not have the proper siren connected to VMGD, the in-house simulation and the actual evacuation drill were conducted separately.)

During 3 days event, additionally tsunami seminar, science and DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) show, Tsunami video show, Tsunami quiz, etc. were organized. Around 500 people joined the evacuation drill, around 250 people joined other activities, totally around 750 people joined whole activities under Van-REDI project. It revealed that many people including the children have their interests in tsunami itself and many people stopped and gazed real tsunami videos and tsunami panels of Tohoku earthquake March 2011, and Tsunami evacuation towers of Japan. At the Tsunami quiz, quite many children answered "Tsunami happens when the god gets angry".

PhotoScene of parade for World Tsunami Awareness Day

PhotoDr.Kamigaichi explaining about the Tsunami at the video show

PhotoAttendees moving to the evacuation place after the siren rang (Tsunami evacuation drill)

PhotoAttendees gathered at the evacuation place (Tsunami evacuation drill)

Questionnaires for tsunami drill were conducted right after the evacuation drill, not only the paper ones but also the online survey as the first time for VMGD. By using the smart phones (an access address is got from QR code), participants could easily answer the questions and this was also easy for the Van-REDI team to analyze the data and information.

The partial result of questionnaires including papers and online survey (n=66, as of 7th Nov. 2022) was as follows.


Dr. Osamu Kamigaichi commented "I strongly believe that the revised SOP will make VMGD to issue Tsunami warning information promptly and properly. It is very important that VMGD staff continue holding the in-house training by themselves to enhance their capacity as well as to improve the SOP."

Mr. Montine Romone, the director, VMGD said that Van-REDI's simulation was very important and seen by all as a role model. All information flow from VMGD to all the people in the community through VMGD and NDMO's channel of communication. This is very unique and never seen before. Through this simulation, not only the community people who have learned a lot about the tsunami and the urgency of evacuation during a real event, but also the staff of VMGD and other stakeholders which took part and have also learned a lot. From now on, VMGD continues Tsunami SOP simulation by ourselves, prepare for the possibility of Tsunami, and try to commit the safety of the people of Vanuatu in the future.

Vanuatu has high possibilities to have a big Tsunami. However, no one knows when it will happen. It is essential that we need to prepare enough, need to know where the safe zone is, how we move there, how to contact with family members, and need to prepare the emergency food and kits.

Van-REDI Project extended the project term to December 2023. The team will conduct another simulation including the evacuation drill somewhere in Vanuatu next year.


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