Local Communities Needed to be Empowered to Mitigate the Tsunami Risk

New York, USA: 4 million Indonesians were exposed to tsunami risk. It was conveyed by the Head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Willem Rampangilei, on the session of Panel Discussion of World Tsunami Awareness Day on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York, USA (1/11).

According to the Head of BNPB, empowerment and capacity building of local communities were an important element in mitigating and reducing disaster risks. Such local capacity building included efforts to prevent communities from the threat of disasters, and to increase the independence and capacity of communities in responding to disasters.

Ambassador/Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN, Dian Triansyah Djani, stated that the explanation of the Head of BNPB Indonesia at UN showed positive steps and progress that Indonesia achieved in handling disaster. This success was appreciated by the international community and served as an example for other countries.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, in the opening remarks of this event added that in the last few decades, the international community has shown great commitment to the risk reduction and disaster management agenda.

“A significant reduction in the mortality rate has been a proof to that commitment," Amina said.

Japan's Permanent Representative to the UN also shared Japanese experiences in integrating disaster risk reduction issues into the national education curriculum. One of them was through the folklore “Hamaguchi Gohei" that was considered to be successful in educating people on the response to tsunami. According to him, it had a great impact in supporting Japan's efforts to continue reducing disaster risks at the grass root level.

Some panelists also conveyed the importance of understanding local contexts and wisdom in an effort to improve the people's capacity, including through education. The geographical condition of countries, especially those comprising small islands, has led to the initiative of determining Safe Island as a place for evacuation of local communities.

The commemoration of World Tsunami Awareness Day this year was the second time, after it was established on 31 March 2016. This activity aimed to exchange experiences of countries and international entities in reducing and mitigating tsunami risks, as well as raising global community awareness of the threat of tsunami disaster.

The series of activities of World Tsunami Awareness Day were closed with a reception presenting the survivors, including public figure Petra Nemcova, the founder of Happy Hearts Fund Foundation. The survivors warned the importance of the tsunami early warning system to prevent large numbers of casualties.

World Tsunami Awareness Day at United Nations Headquarters in New York was organized in cooperation between Japan, Indonesia, Maldives, Chile, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The appointment of Indonesia as one of the co-organizers has shown the trust and hope of the international community towards Indonesia to improve its leadership in the promotion of humanitarian diplomacy, especially in the field of risk reduction and disaster management. (Source: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia/PTRI New York)