In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 5th as World Tsunami Awareness Day to promote a global culture of tsunami preparedness and awareness to build resilience across generations. World Tsunami Awareness Day was the brainchild of Japan, which due to its repeated, bitter experiences with tsunamis, has over the years built up major expertise in areas such as tsunami early warning, public action and building back better after a disaster to reduce future impacts. In the last five years, substantial efforts have been made to enhance capacities, raise awareness and develop knowledge and systems to strengthen tsunami response.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Asia-Pacific are committed to supporting tsunami awareness and preparedness. With support from the Government of Japan, UNDRR annually organises visibility events to raise awareness and UNDP is implementing a tsunami preparedness programme in schools in 23 Asia Pacific countries. Under the UNDP project, over 300 schools in 23 countries have reviewed and updated their tsunami preparedness plans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to disaster preparedness and response. In planning safe evacuation from disaster events, physical distancing and hygiene practices need to be observed. As a result, disaster and tsunami preparedness plans need to be reviewed and updated to address the challenges brought about by the current pandemic. In view of this, UNDRR and UNDP have developed this Guide for School Administrators, based on best practice from Japan and elsewhere.