KARACHI: Experts at the launch of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project — supported by the Japanese government — underscored the need for community readiness to effectively address the threats posed by tsunami and earthquake in the coastal areas of Pakistan.
Titled ‘Strengthening Tsunami and Earthquake Preparedness in the Coastal Areas of Pakistan’, the project is being implemented with the coordination and technical support of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Provincial Disaster Management Authorities of Sindh and Balochistan, the Pakistan Meteorological Department, NED University of Engineering and Technology and Pakistan Red Crescent Society.
The aim of the project is to provide policy and operational support at both the national and sub-national levels, through evidence-based research and analysis.
The project also aims to enhance the resilience of coastal communities to coastal hazards in Sindh and Balochistan and expand their livelihood opportunities, particularly in the areas of Karachi West, Malir and Gwadar districts.
The event also marked the opening session of an international workshop titled ‘Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Tsunami Early Warning’ jointly organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of Unesco (Unesco-IOC) and the UNDP Tsunami and Earthquake Preparedness project, in collaboration with the PMD.
‘The fast-growing cities along the coast are most vulnerable to tsunami’
Highlighting the need for the project, speakers said the countries lying along the North-West Indian Ocean faced the threat of tsunamis from the Makran subduction zone, which had not been well studied yet.
The five-day workshop, they said, would discuss the challenges and fill gaps in the existing early warning SOPs by bringing together national and international tsunami and earthquake hazard experts and risk-reduction practitioners.
During the workshop, experts would share findings from their respective countries and fields of work and engage in collaborative exercises on tsunami early warning procedures and related issues.
“The fast-growing cities along the coast are most vulnerable to tsunami due to their proximity to the (Makran) subduction zone. This project will closely work with national, provincial and district governments for promoting policy and legal instruments and instilling tsunami risk preparedness through enhancing institutional capacity of the relevant authorities and departments through training and research,” said Muhammad Usman Manzoor, programme officer at the UNDP’s environment and climate change unit.
Ardito M. Kodijat, head of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre, said the objective of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific project being implemented by Unesco-IOC in the region was to have better understanding of the Makran subduction zone and to enhance tsunami preparedness in the Makran region.
He also spoke about the need to focus on community readiness and informed the audience that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of Unesco was currently piloting a tsunami ready programme.
“In addition, the Indian Ocean Wave Exercise 2020 to be organised by Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in October would provide an opportunity to the community to participate in International Tsunami Wave drills.”
NED University Vice Chancellor Prof Sarosh Hashmat Lodi emphasised the need to develop standardised and coordinated tsunami hazard and risk assessments for all coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan to effectively address the challenges posed by the natural disaster.
PMD director general Muhammad Riaz said the UNDP was committed to strengthening early warning systems in Sindh and Balochistan.
The Karachi office of the organisation had remained engaged with the programme’s stakeholders in the province, particularly with coastal communities, to make the community resilient to the threat of tsunamis, he added.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020