Pre­par­ing kids for tsunamis

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

School evac­u­a­tion drills were or­ga­nized in the out­skirts of Yangon last month. More than 300 stu­dents, teach­ers and prin­ci­pals par­tic­i­pated in a tsunami evac­u­a­tion drill to as­sess the schools’ emer­gency pre­pared­ness.

The drills in­volved 2 schools - Kaungyan­gon High School 1 and Letkokkon High School 1. The schools adopted an in­no­va­tive evac­u­a­tion model based on a good prac­tice from Ja­pan, where older stu­dents take care of younger ones. This helps to min­i­mize the risk of harm, re­duce fear and panic among younger stu­dents dur­ing the drill.

The evac­u­a­tion drills were or­ga­nized fol­low­ing a fic­tional sce­nario of an 8.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake that prompted a tsunami warn­ing. The schools had 30 min­utes to line up the stu­dents and walk them to safe ar­eas. Stu­dents of Kaungyan­gon were evac­u­ated to a nearby monastery, while those from Letkokkon were evac­u­ated to a cy­clone shel­ter.

Myan­mar is prone to earth­quakes, be­ing lo­cated on one of the two main earth­quake belts of the world and con­se­quently peo­ple liv­ing in coast ar­eas are very vul­ner­a­ble to tsunamis.

The evac­u­a­tion drills are part of a Gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan funded re­gional pro­ject for strength­en­ing school pre­pared­ness for tsunamis in Asia and the Pa­cific, im­ple­mented by UNDP in 18 Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries.

“To­day’s drill has planted a seed that we hope will help schools, stu­dents and their fam­i­lies to be bet­ter pre­pared to re­spond to tsunamis. I am grate­ful that with the sup­port from the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan, school chil­dren in Myan­mar have joined oth­ers across the Asia Pa­cific re­gion in learn­ing how to re­main safe dur­ing tsunamis,” said Peter Batch­e­lor, United Na­tions Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP) Coun­try Direc­tor in Myan­mar.

“Ja­pan’s ex­pe­ri­ences and ro­bust sys­tems in en­sur­ing com­mu­nity pre­pared­ness at all lev­els for mit­i­gat­ing the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of tsunamis of­fers con­crete lessons and valu­able point­ers for sim­i­larly vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries. The Gov­ern­ment of

Myan­mar is prone to earth­quakes, be­ing lo­cated on one of the two main earth­quake belts of the world and con­se­quently peo­ple liv­ing in coast ar­eas are very vul­ner­a­ble to tsunamis.

Ja­pan is happy to sup­port UNDP in shar­ing these lessons and sup­port­ing school chil­dren in Myan­mar and in other coun­tries across the re­gion to be bet­ter pre­pared for po­ten­tial tsunami oc­cur­rences in the fu­ture,” said Kazuyuki Takimi, Coun­sel­lor/ Head of Eco­nomic and Devel­op­ment As­sis­tance Sec­tion, Em­bassy of Ja­pan.

In Myan­mar, the pro­ject is sup­ported by the Relief and Re­set­tle­ment Depart­ment, un­der the Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Relief and Re­set­tle­ment and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. The non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion Seeds Asia is sup­port­ing UNDP to im­ple­ment the pro­ject.

"The Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Relief and Re­set­tle­ment is deeply com­mit­ted to­wards tsunami aware­ness; we ob­served Tsunami aware­ness Day on 5th Novem­ber last year. We think that it is cru­cial to raise com­mu­nity aware­ness not only on fre­quent dis­as­ters but also on in­fre­quent dis­as­ters that can have a po­ten­tial cat­a­strophic im­pact. We do be­lieve that 'Aware­ness does save lives'," said Dr Ko Ko Naing, Direc­tor Gen­eral of the Relief and Re­set­tle­ment Depart­ment.

The re­gional pro­ject for strength­en­ing school pre­pared­ness for tsunamis in Asia and the Pa­cific is im­ple­mented by UNDP, in 18 Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries: Bangladesh, Cam­bo­dia, Fiji, In­done­sia, Malaysia, Mal­dives, Myan­mar, Pak­istan, Pa­pua New Guinea, Philip­pines, Samoa, Solomon Is­lands, Sri Lanka, Thai­land, Ti­mor Leste, Tonga, Van­u­atu and Viet Nam. It con­trib­utes to the achieve­ment of the Sendai Frame­work’s tar­gets to re­duce lives lost, num­bers of peo­ple af­fected, and eco­nomic dam­age from nat­u­ral and hu­man-in­duced haz­ards. It also aims to achieve UNDP’s goal to help vul­ner­a­ble re­gions to adapt to cli­mate change by in­te­grat­ing dis­as­ter risk mea­sures into na­tional strate­gies.

Photo: EPA

Years af­ter the 2004 tsunami in In­done­sia a house lies derelict.

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