Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum Jr.

As the country commemorates the World Tsunami Awareness Day, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum Jr. on Friday noted the importance of community preparedness against a tsunami.

“The Philippines, being an archipelago and in a seismically active region, is highly prone to tsunamis. It has experienced more than 40 local tsunami events in the past 500 years,” he said in a webinar.

He cited that based on Phivolcs’ recent hazard mapping efforts, there are around 14 million people living in the coastal areas of the Philippines at risk of tsunamis. This high exposure to tsunami, he said, highlights the need to prepare the communities to be ready for tsunamis by developing an end-to-end early warning system.

This system involves international and national organizations, local governments and coastal communities, focused on monitoring and warning, hazards and risk assessment, and effective and efficient actions that reduce the risks through mitigation and preparedness for appropriate response.

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“The different sectors of our society need to continuously work together towards developing tsunami-ready communities that need to be resilient to other threats, including climate change and Covid-19,” Solidum said. He emphasized that while building tsunami-ready communities in the new normal are challenging, the partnership is key towards this effort.

Phivolcs for instance has organized and led discussions with national and local disaster risk reduction and management officers and other disaster risk reduction practitioners to create a harmonized tsunami disaster risk reduction program. The agency has been providing technical assistance to the Department of Interior and Local Government in its endeavors to mainstream disaster risk reduction in local government unit level mechanisms.

Solidum said the business sector needs to continue its critical operations immediately after disasters. With this, Phivolcs helped in developing tsunami risk reduction guides for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Metro Manila for their tsunami preparedness and response planning.

“We must continue to work hand in hand with communities to ensure that effective approaches and initiatives are cascaded, sustained and advocated. Just like what we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to anticipate and be prepared for rare but possible extreme events,” he said.

Meanwhile, the World Tsunami Awareness Day raises public awareness on the risk posed by tsunamis and serves as an avenue for countries to share effective approaches to make communities tsunami-ready.

Among the activities that Phivolcs do to commemorate this since 2016 include the holding of exhibitions and tsunami seminars in schools and towns.

Phivolcs also holds online digital poster-making contests for students, webinars for the public MSMEs, Solidum said. (PNA)

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