Image courtesy United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

In December 2015, the UN General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day.

In 2020, World Tsunami Awareness Day will promote Target (e) of the “Sendai Seven Campaign”, which encourages countries and communities to have national and local disaster risk reduction strategies in place to save more lives against disasters by the end of 2020.

By the year 2030, an estimated 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis. Having plans and policies in place to reduce tsunami impacts will help to build more resilience and protect populations at risk.

On this day, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) reminds us to ask ourselves one important question: Do you have a national or a local plan in place to anticipate a tsunami?

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. (Image courtesy the UN)

In his Message in commemoration of World Tsunamic Awareness Day 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres likens the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, to a tsunami.

“Currently we are struggling with what some describe as a tsunami of death and disease due to COVID-19,” he observes. “This metaphor comes easily because living memory remains strong of the worst sudden onset disaster this century, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that took more than 227,000 lives.”

“Pandemic preparedness can borrow much from the progress we have made in reducing large-scale loss of life from tsunamis,” he says.  “When tsunamis strike, they are a supreme test of the governance and institutions that have been put in place to manage disaster risk,” he points out.

He urges countries to build our resilience to all hazards, natural and man-made.

“We live in a multi-hazard world where risk is systemic and embedded in the very fabric of human development,” he says.

The Secretary-General also assures the UN is doing everything it can to help countries around the world minimise the numbers of lives lost in tsunamis.

“The United Nations system is working with partners around the globe to educate the public, organize drills, create evacuation routes and to do everything possible to avoid heavy loss of life when the next tsunami comes,” Mr Guterres assured. “And come it surely will, just like the next pandemic, storm, flood, drought or heatwave.”