On 5th November of every year, nations across the world mark World Tsunami Awareness Day. This day is aimed at spreading awareness of the deadly natural disaster which killed over 260,000 people in December 2004. According to a report by the United Nations official website, the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami exceeded any other natural hazard which occurred in the past 100 years. 14 countries were hit and millions of people lost their lives. Thailand was the hardest-hit country with an estimate of 227,000 deaths alone in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. In December 2015, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) designated 5th November as World Tsunami Awareness Day, in a bid to raise awareness. Ever since then, the day has been continuously observed each year.
What is a tsunami?
The word “tsunami” consists of the Japanese words “tsu”; meaning harbor, and “nami”; meaning wave. A tsunami is a series of massive waves that are created by a disturbance underwater which is usually caused by earthquakes occurring near or below the ocean. Other causes of tsunamis include landslides, volcanic eruptions, and extra-terrestrial collisions.
World Tsunami Awareness Day 2021 Theme
Last year’s World Tsunami Awareness Day theme was Sendai Seven Campaign, which upheld strategic development at the community-national level in order to save more lives and lessen risk against the natural hazard. The World Tsunami Awareness Day was planned as a 30-day campaign with a particular focus on indigenous knowledge, scientific expertise, and memory of the December 2004 tsunami.
This year, World Tsunami Awareness Day will promote the “Sendai Seven Campaign” target which seeks to “Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the present Framework by 2030.” By 2030, about 50 % of the world’s population will be residing in coastal areas which are highly exposed to tsunamis, flooding, and storms. It is imperative to scale up international cooperation to developing countries by educating everyone on tsunami risks as this will help ensure the preparation and resilience of 100% of communities that are at risk of tsunamis.
Significance of World Tsunami Awareness Day
The day is commemorated to create awareness of Tsunamis among people and for the 700 million people currently residing in coastal areas and low-lying islands. The day also spreads awareness about the deadly natural disaster which killed over 260,000 people. The 2021 edition of the World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) will be organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and UNDRR, in collaboration with other UN and external partners, under the sponsorship of the Government of Japan. It will be structured around multiple events happening around the world.
Decisions and resolutions that were adopted in June 2021 at the 31st Session of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO/IOC) will boost global efforts to strengthen tsunami preparedness. The UN Ocean Decade (2021-2030) will offer “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” to improve the detection and early warning systems of tsunamis. Recently, UN Secretary-General António Guterres gave a message for World Tsunami Awareness Day. He said that we need to be ready, seeing the increase in the complex global crisis. It’s important to reduce the risks of tsunamis and build resilience against all kinds of disasters and for that, we need to deliver on the Sendai Framework