Tsunamis and other natural hazards are unpredictable, but those affected can become more prepared and resilient against them.
This was one of the key points raised by Director of the International Tsunami Information Centre, Laura Kong, during a two-day Tsunami Public Awareness and Educational Stakeholders Consultation meeting in the Dominican Republic recently.
"A functioning resilient community is one that has functioning science, [to inform] public education practitioners and promoters, and disaster management officials," she said.
Ms. Kong noted that there were 2,400 reported tsunamis from 1410 BC to AD 2012, of which 279 were fatal. Of those, she noted, 82 per cent were caused by earthquakes, seven per cent by volcanoes, four per cent by landslides and the remaining seven per cent by unknown or meteorological causes. She added that most tsunamis were in the Pacific, and 99 per cent of deaths were caused by those occurring locally.
"After 2004, we recognised that we cannot stop natural hazards, but we could do more to make people more resilient against them," she added.
To do so, the Director noted that building understanding and awareness were among key measures that must be undertaken in the process. She pointed out that in building preparedness, the culture which would include the practices and beliefs of the society must be taken into consideration, while the commitment of stakeholders was important.
Ms. Kong further explained out that the use of location, knowing the type of hazard, and what language should be used for the target audience, were key elements to ensuring that there was clear understanding and good communication. She added that knowing the structure, community and society was also an important part of the process.
During her presentation, the Director stressed that there was a role for traditional and indigenous knowledge, in addition to modern technology.