A Tsunami Awareness Day to reduce the risk of this phenomenon

A Tsunami Awareness Day to reduce the risk of this phenomenon


Tsunamis are rare events, but they can be extremely deadly. In the last 100 years, 58 of them have claimed more than 260,000 lives, or an average of 4,600 per disaster, surpassing any other natural risk. The highest number of deaths in that period was in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. This caused an estimated 227 000 deaths in 14 countries, with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand most affected.

Just three weeks later the international community met in Kobe, in the Hyogo region of Japan. Governments approved the Hyogo Framework for Action Available in English 2005-2015, the first comprehensive global agreement on disaster risk reduction.

They also created the system for warning and mitigating the effects of tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, which has dozens of seismic and sea level monitoring stations and disseminates alerts to the national information centers of tsunamis.

Rapid urbanization and increased tourism in tsunamis-prone regions are putting more and more people at risk. That makes risk reduction a key factor in achieving a substantial reduction in disaster mortality worldwide – a primary objective of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted in March 2015, which it is the successor instrument of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

In December 2015, the General Assembly designated November 5 as the World Day of Awareness of the tsunamis.

The creation of World Day is an original idea of Japan, which due to its repeated and bitter experience over the years has accumulated great experience in areas such as early warning of tsunamis, public action and rebuilding better after a disaster to reduce future impacts.

The chosen date has its origin in the anecdote “Inamura no hi”, that is, the “burning of rice sheaves”. During an earthquake in 1854 a villager saw the retreat of the tide, a sign that a tsunami is looming. At the expense of his property, he set fire to his entire crop to warn the inhabitants of the village, to flee to the highlands. Later, an embankment was built and trees were planted to act as natural buffer systems against strong waves.

The General Assembly invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the Day in order to raise awareness to the population about the risk posed by the tsunamis. It also requests the secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Available in English to facilitate the celebration of the Day, in collaboration with the relevant organizations of the United Nations system.

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