An effective educational program must inform government officials and the local populace about tsunami risks and what to do in the event of a tsunami. The following sections aim to find ways to encourage communities to adopt appropriate strategies to minimize tsunami impact.
To meet the objective, several target audiences have been defined that need to be educated individually. This approach stems from the large amount of available information, not all of which is useful. These targets range from the tourism industry to the health professionals to isolated communities.
For any at-risk developing nation in which we could potentially implement our educational plan, there has to exist a well-coordinated source for information entering the country. With this in place, we will then define the individual government’s role in decision-making.
To facilitate the function of the governments, we plan on utilizing an “umbrella” non-governmental organization to coordinate efforts in multiple at-risk countries.
The World Bank would be an available resource because one of its priorities is helping developing countries improve their public services and reduce disaster vulnerability among the poor. Its new Disaster Management Facility has provided information on lessons learned from past disasters so that now the Bank can effectively focus on prevention rather than response (Kreimer, 2000).
Numerous organizations including governments, the World Institute for Disaster Risk Management, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and several UN Programs are partners in the World Bank Disaster Management Facility’s ProVention Consortium. The Consortium may be our ideal coordinating body because it brings together government, international organizations, and private groups with the common goal of educating developing countries about the best way to reduce the impact of disasters (Kreimer, 2000).
The United Nations [UN] can also provide necessary coordination for our educational plan. One of the UN’s tasks is to form and maintain an “International Strategy for Disaster Reduction” [ISDR]. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Disaster Reduction then keeps the ISDR on target, gives them recommendations, and holds meetings of a network of interested organizations so that all plans of action are compatible (UN/ISDR).
Our actual educators carrying out these plans may also come from the Peace Corps who, in the past, utilized a mobile education center called the “Hope Bus” to convey information to groups of people across a large area (Education facilities and risk management).
Once we establish a non-governmental team to execute necessary training procedures, the first step of national officials would be to make sure that local coordination responsibility is given to the correct administrators, and that aid is provided to all areas of the nation – not just those most frequently cited in the news (Beatty). The government can help promote the centralization of tsunami-related expertise and then provide for communication to isolated areas (Union of International Associations, 1986). A possible plan for this process could be based on the fact that local administrators are gaining power in Peru as the government is being decentralized. The country is divided into twenty-five regions that are split into provinces that are in turn separated into districts. Each of these districts has an official (TDS).
In general, we would prefer to work with an established administrative body to implement our plan. For example in Peru, we would most likely want to collaborate with the Ministers of Interior, Education, Health, and Tourism; as well as with the Permanent Representative to the United Nations (TDS). In Micronesia, our concern lies with the power of Nationwide Public Services, and the concurrent powers of “borrowing money on the public credit” and “health and public welfare” (Griffiths, 2005).
As we put together our educational plan for the different sectors of each country’s population, we compiled a list of steps we need from a coordinating body:
- Approval of the materials we plan on distributing to local residents, officials, professionals, educators, and tourists. a. Brochures b. Handbooks c. Syllabi
- Funding of some of the training programs for these groups of people.
- Official invitations to international witness speakers and presenters.
- Translation and subsequent mass-production of our material in the prominent languages of targeted regions. a. Pamphlets b. Textbooks c. Charts and maps d. Audiovisual media
- Granting permission to distribute influential materials in government facilities such as international airports.
- Consultation with media officials to coordinate programming.
- Legislation for building codes, and certification of tsunami-safe structures.
- Implementation of programs in state hospitals by a “Minister of Health”.
- Coordination of administrators in less-accessible, at-risk areas.
- Construction of appropriate signs in accordance with existing guidelines.
- Assignment of mental health professionals to individual communities.
- Training of humanitarian workers so that relief centers are efficient (ex. instruction on how to use a computer system to log information about survivors and the dead)
Essentially, personnel and coordination efforts from non-governmental organizations will be used to bring well-structured information to the leaders of target countries. The respective countries’ central governments would then have the task of facilitating coordination efforts to reiterate the information to their populations.
1. Educational facilities and risk management: Natural disasters. (2004). Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
2. Griffiths, A. L. (Ed.). (2005). Handbook of federal countries, 2005. Ithaca: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
4. Travel Document Systems, Inc (TDS) (1996-2005). Peru government information. Retrieved October 31, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://www.traveldocs.com/pe/govern.htm
5. Union of International Associations (Ed.). (1986). Encyclopedia of world problems and human potential. New York: K.G. Saur.
6. United Nations/ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR). Inter-agency task force on disaster reduction: Functions and responsibilities. Retrieved October 31, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://www.eird.org/eng/grupo-trabajo/funciones-eng.htm
It is important to educate teachers living in the affected regions because they touch the lives of many children. Educating the teachers is an effective method of disseminating information to hundreds of kids. Teachers can also provide moral support to children who have no one else to turn to. Teachers can also help educate parents about the tsunamis, and they can in turn spread the information.
» Educating Teachers
The education will be provided using the following methods:
- Tsunami educational kits which can be made available either online or printed and bound then made available as handbooks. The information in these kits would mostly target the students they teach.
- Presentations may also be held, where people with a good understanding tsunamis and response procedures are invited to talk to the teachers.
- Sending of various teachers as representatives of their schools to other countries which have a stronger base in disaster management systems and letting the teachers know how their counterparts elsewhere do things. In addition, if this is not possible, then teachers from those other places can also come and share their knowledge with the teachers of Peru and Micronesia. This would create some sort of exchange program, where both parties gain from each other and if this was to be made a regular event, for example once every three years, then chances of gaining more form it would be increased.
- Training camps and seminars can also be held especially during school breaks when the teachers can engage themselves fully in these types of activities without the worry of their students falling back behind. This would greatly help, especially if the government makes it compulsory and caters for such programs. On returning to their schools, such teachers would be given the task of educating fellow teachers who did not attend the program.
- Helping teachers keep in touch with world current affairs and this would help them in staying afloat when it comes to the latest developments in tsunami studies. They can do this through listening to the media and reading relevant literature. It would be recommended that if certain bodies come up with new strategies, they document them and send them to schools so that teachers are also involved. In some schools where funds allow, purchases of things such as TVs would be encouraged and this would serve as an incentive to encourage them to keep up with world current affairs.
» Teachers to Students
Some of the things that the teachers can teach their students include, for example, information about tsunamis:
- What are they?
- What causes them?
- What are earthquakes and what causes them?
- How fast do earthquakes travel?
- What are some of the health related issues such as resulting diseases?
- How can people cope with them?
- Discussion of social studies pertaining to how disasters are reported by the media and what they feel about it and language arts under which they can discuss use of literature as a coping mechanism- especially for those at higher learning levels. They can also teach them how to express feeling about tragedy using art, and apart from serving as a release it would also serve as a way to identify children who will need more in-depth psychological help.1
The methods to use would include:
- Making the kids write letters for example to imaginary authorities about aid and development issues and this would help stimulate their thinking and encourage them to be open minded and explore potential fields in disaster management.
- Inviting people in fields to do with tsunamis come and lecture the children on such issues as how to escape.
- Engaging the kids in simulating activities such as designing a rebuilding and rehabilitation program for a village. This would help them reason and expand their scope of knowledge on issues on the tsunami. Some of the things they would be encouraged to explore would include key sectors for rehabilitation, activities to undertake, resources needed, and risks and strategies to manage the risks. This would enable the kids to come up with creative methods on how to deal with the situation and be prepared in the event of such an occurrence.
- Holding practice drills in school as this would ensure that they are always prepared at all times. As an incentive those who do it best may be rewarded with some gifts or presents to encourage the others to know what they are meant to know.
Posters may also be set up in their classes by the teachers and these used as teaching aids in disseminating information about the tsunami.2
This would not be so hard to implement as most schools have time that is devoted to social studies. For example, in Peru, the time devoted to lessons in social studies amounts to about 23% of the total learning time. This would make it easier to get some time from these lessons and use them in teaching the children.3
» Teachers to Parents
There are so many things that teachers can teach but some of the main groups to target would be the parents and their students. Some of the ways to reach the parents would be over open days where parents are invited to come and discuss the academic progress of their kids with the teachers. During such occasions a short presentation by members of the teaching staff would be applicable. Alternatively, during school Annual General Meetings teachers could also give short speeches. The other thing to do would be to send the kids home with letters to the parents, disseminating such crucial information4
Some of the things to tell them, would include how to cope with disasters such as tsunamis and give them tips on how best to help the children deal with the situation. For example, some tips to give parents on how to help their kids cope would include:
- Switching off radios and TVs whenever they show disturbing images and tell horrifying stories in the presence of kids.
- Listening to their kids carefully and making them feel that whatever they say is appreciated.
- Giving the kids reassurance and psychological first-aid should the kids be traumatized.
- Getting professional psychological help for their kids should they be unable to single-handedly tackle their children's depression.
- Expecting the unexpected especially when it comes to the extent to which the kids have been affected. The teachers should also recommend that the parents give the children room for recovery and not be so quick to expect them to learn how to cope.
- Giving their kids extra time and attention.
- Be models for their kids in the way they cope.
- Watching their own behavior toward the whole situation. For example if they are frustrated, they should not vent out their problems for the kids and if they feel that they want to cry they can do it away from the kids.
- Helping kids return to normal activities.
- Encouraging their children to do volunteer work as it makes them feel more useful and puts their mind away from all the mental turmoil.5
1. Atwater, B., Cistemas, V., Bourgeois, J., Dudley, W.C., Hendley, J., Stauffer, P., (1999) Surviving a Tsunami- Lessons from Chile, Hawaii and Japan
. Washington, DC: America.
2. Washington Emergency Management Division (2003). How the Smart Family Survived a Tsunami- Elementary Ed- K6)
New York: America.
3. UNESCO Peruvian Education Stats, http://www.nationmaster.com/country/pe/Education
4. UNICEF, 2001. Disaster in Asia. www.unicef.org/emerg/disasterinasia
5. Global Education. Nepal. www.globaleducation.edna.edu.au/globaled/go/cache/offonce/pid/1605
They comprise an important category that needs so much attention since in the face of most disasters, they are the ones who tend to suffer most. To try as much as possible and alleviate this suffering, it is of paramount importance that we look for ways to lovingly deal with them. Most of the things to teach them were highlighted in dealing with teachers. In summary, some of them included: what tsunamis are, how they travel, what earthquakes are, what causes them, how to escape in case of a tsunami, and health related issues about the tsunami. The children would also need to be educated on all possible escape plans and in some cases this information may be customized to fit various families. For example, a family may decide that if in the event of a tsunami, the family becomes scattered, they should contact a relative or a family friend for purposes of accountability for all members of the family. They also would need to be counseled especially after suffering mental trauma. Other groups to be involved in thechildren's education would include their families and religious leaders. This would be really effective in Peru and Micronesia since a good number of the populace attends church services with special sessions for the kids. Most people also tend to believe what they hear in the church and thus this would be a good avenue to1
Ways to educate children include:
- Use of posters and signs like road signs to show them what various signs mean and steps to take in the case of such an emergency.
- Class lectures during which teachers, people in various fields with knowledge about the tsunami, and fellow classmates educate the others.
- Division of the class into groups where each group tackles a specific issue dealing with the tsunami. This would be helpful since for kids, participatory learning helps to make them remember better what they learnt.
- Debates may also be held among the students for example on the best methods of escape. This would be helpful as they would all remember what their peers had to say in the event of such an occurrence and this would probably increase their chances of survival in the event of a tsunami.
- Taking them to visit exhibits in places such as museums. For example a model may be created which rocks like an earthquake and the children allowed to experience the feeling. Such ideas, while funny and interesting to the children, would leave indelible marks etched in their minds. This would help them be cautious in the event of an earthquake which can cause a tsunami.
- Plays and skits may also be staged and such things can show the steps to take in the event of an emergency. The drama clubs of the various schools, or actors may be used.
- Use of media such as TVs and radios where programs targeting the children are aired for example: use of cartoons or story telling sessions as these are a favorite of children.
Promotional items may also be distributed. Some examples include name tags, lanyards or pens with information about tsunamis.1
» Potential Obstacles
As much as we would like to achieve all this, there are a number of hurdles along the way which would need to be tackled. It is important to note that what affects the teachers also has an effect on the children in some way since the knowledge teachers have is disseminated to the children.
Some of this include:
- Lack of adequate funds to implement some of the programs in mind like the training of all the teachers hence causing a disadvantage in educating the children. Small numbers of working staff and instructors due to lack of knowledge and poor education background. In Peru for example, the teachers form only 5% of the total working population in the country and this is a relatively small number compared to the total number of people they need to reach out to.2
- There are inadequate materials available for the education of teachers and kids. For example not every school can afford to buy extra paper for posters since some have more pressing needs and operate on a shoestring budget.2
- In a place like Micronesia, it would be a bit hard to institutionalize tsunami education since the education system is a bit rigid: they have been using the same syllabus for the past twenty years with very little changes despite the need to adopt more relevant things.3
- Not all children go to school and thus some programs which can be taught in schools alone may not be able to reach some children, leaving them ill prepared.2
- Some villages may be far away from efficient forms of communication such as in Peru where some children occasionally attend small centers called 'nucleos' where they get some learning. Unfortunately, this is not so regular as they are very far away and tend to be cut off.2
1. Washington Emergency Management Division (2003). How the Smart Family Survived a Tsunami- Elementary Ed- K6. New York: America
2. UNESCO Peruvian Education Stats, http://www.nationmaster.com/country/pe/Education
In Peru, la Dirección de Hidrografía y Navigación de la Marina de Guerra is responsible for the administration, operation, and investigation of oceanic activities for national development, navigational security, and research material for educational institutions (http://www.dhn.mil.pe/index.asp?pag=principal). The safety rules posted on their webpage are essential; they are translated into English below as part of the educational plan for isolated communities:
- Stay alert after a strong seismic event occurs.
- After a seismic event has occurred, do not remain in low costal zones.
- A tsunami is not only a single wave, but a series of waves (2 to 6) which can repeat every 15 to 30 minutes. Stay far away from the costal zones until authorities declare that the alert has been terminated.
- Never approach the beach in order to observe a tsunami.
- During a tsunami emergency, cooperate with authorities.
- In case of emergency, always have a bag ready with medical items.
- Store the following emergency items together: radio, flashlights, candles, non-degradable food items, and water.
In order to reduce causalities, a team of scientists will develop and install warning sirens across the coastal regions of Peru and Micronesia. These sirens will only be activated by Tone Alert Radio signals when a tsunami watch or warning is issued. Furthermore, the deployment of small radios in small isolated communities will serve as another important source of information for the people. But for any of this to work, the people in these isolated communities must be educated about the significance of the warning messages produced by the sirens or broadcast by the radios. Likewise, for a warning system to be effective, the warning messages or signals must contain all of the information necessary to permit rapid and rational decision making.
One way to educate the people is to incorporate tsunami hazard and evacuation information into the school curriculum. The costs for such a program in rural communities will be high, but researchers for the World Bank have found that rural Peruvian households are willing to pay high fees to established and open new secondary schools in their villages (Gertler & Glewwe, 5). Moreover, relief money from global cooperation will also help. Teachers may range from educated Peruvian individuals to humanitarian workers from the United Nations or other international organizations. Also, these schools should periodically hold tsunami drills so that children will learn about proper evacuation methods and be able to pass this information to their parents in a real emergency.
Special considerations in forming an educational plan should include tackling language barriers, literacy rates, and cultural traditions. For instance, in Micronesia, even though English is the official and common language, there are also a number of minor dialects that are spoken especially in isolated communities (Central Intelligence Agency: The World Factbook. (2005, August 30). Federated States of Micronesia. Retrieved September 20, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fm.html). Thus, informational brochures will need to be designed to also target individuals whose languages are solely oral or who are not able to read. Furthermore, additional explanations and information can be provided by humanitarian workers from the United Nations or through other agencies trained in these different languages.
Again, rapid communication at all levels is pivotal for this educational program to excel and save lives during a tsunami. Therefore, the following procedure, which has been modified and expanded from Ayre’s research, was developed for isolated and rural communities (1975):
- A specific individual in each rural community needs to be responsible for notifying the entire community of a tsunami warning through any means possible (Ayre, 177)—from radio announcements to telephone calls. This person will be notified by a government official as soon as a tsunami watch or warning is issued—the same time as when the siren alarms will go off. If for any reason this individual cannot perform his or her duties, a second individual must be designated in advance to replace him or her (Ayre, 177).
- After being notified by the individual above about a tsunami hazard, a local group of individuals trained with exact procedures about tsunami evacuation will go door-to-door to assure that everyone has been warned and is able to leave their homes (Ayre, 177). But as time is a limiting factor, this would occur only at homes of individuals who are either physically or mentally handicapped, and at special locations, such as retirement facilities, daycares, and small schools.
- These individuals will then leave to a specified and equipped place which will be on higher ground. In the case of Micronesia, they will need to travel by boat to nearby islands with higher elevations. Additionally, the higher elevations on the Micronesian islands (hills) tend to be covered by floral and fauna (Central Intelligence Agency: The World Factbook. (2005, August 30). Federated States of Micronesia. Retrieved September 20, 2005 from the WorldWideWeb: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fm.html). So, natives in isolated communities can run to these areas for protection and use machetes (a common and precious item for the people) to get deep within the forest (this doesn’t mean that the forests should be cut down). In short, the main goal is to get as far as possible from costal areas and lowlands.
Again, for this tsunami evacuation procedure to occur efficiently and rapidly, the people need to be educated. In the case of Micronesia where religion is very important, the minister’s wife can spread the word through the village by helping run small informational sessions in the church.
Also, the individuals in isolated communities, like all other victims in a tsunami disaster, should be educated on what do after a tsunami has hit. They should also be aware of hazardous debris that can threaten health and safety, such as weak infrastructure in buildings and contamination of water and food supplies (United Nations, 2005). Moreover, during the period of relief and recovery that follows a tsunami event, the people need to be aware about the preservation of limited resources, such as that of clean water.
With such an extensive educational program, one must also remember that “over-warning based on inadequate knowledge” or having too many false alarms (such as in the case of tsunami-drills) often result in “a loss of faith” from the people towards the tsunami warning agencies. This would result in a reluctance to take action after a tsunami warning. (El-Sabh, 280). Therefore, caution must be held throughout this initiative.
In short, the development of an educational program for tsunami awareness is paramount to prevent the loss of life. This can only be done with cooperative efforts from the government to coordinate, plan, and implement such a program (202).
1. Ayre, R. S. (1975). Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards in the United States: A Research Assessment. Boulder: University of Colorado.
2. Bernard, E. N. (1997). Reducing Tsunami Hazards along US Coastlines. In G. Hebenstreit (Eds.), Perspectives on Tsunami Hazard Reduction: Observations, Theory, and Planning (pp. 189-203). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
3. El-Sabth, M. I. (1995). The Role of Public Education and Awareness in Tsunami Hazard Management. In Y. Tsuchiya & N. Shuto (Eds.), Tsunami: Progress in Predication, Disaster Prevention and Warning (pp. 323-336). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
4. Gertler, P., & Glewwe, P. (1989). The Willingness to Pay for Education in Developing Countries: Evidence from Rural Peru. In Living Standards Measurement Study (No. 54). Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
5. United Nations. (2005). After the Tsunami: Rapid Environmental Assessment. New York, New York: United Nations Environment Programme.
The money coming from the tourism industry is an important source of revenue for the improvement of a country’s economy because it brings an influx of funds from a source outside the country. Major industries in Peru and Micronesia will suffer significantly if there is a lack of money coming from foreign individuals. Tourism is a source of business for many people, and every cent earned is extremely important, especially for people in developing countries like Peru and Micronesia. It is therefore imperative that tourists are educated about tsunami awareness; ensuring their safety and continued visits into a given country.
We propose that the problem in educating tourists about tsunamis be tackled on two levels: before the tsunami and after the tsunami.
» Before the Tsunami
It is important to note that tourists cannot get the same education as the one given to residents. It must therefore be assumed that tourists have no prior knowledge of tsunamis. The proposal is as follows:
First, tsunami warning signs (posters, road signs, etc.) should be placed throughout all areas that may be affected by tsunamis. These warning signs should contain what tourists and other citizens should do in the event of a tsunami warning. The signs should be in a language understandable by all and must contain pictures. Tourists need to be made aware through a medium that is easy to decipher.
Second, pamphlets or brochures should be distributed to the tourists as they enter the airports or as they check into local hotels, motels or resorts. What should be emphasized in the documents are the following:
- Why it is important to recognize the existence and the probability of a tsunami happening
- Causes of tsunamis – so that tourists know when a tsunami may be forming even without being directly told.
- Statistics from some previous tsunamis
- Pictures of past tsunamis, to give the tourists a sense of the destruction they can cause. These pictures, however, should not be too graphic as to scare tourists away from the country.
- Contact information– websites to visit and important organizations to contact for more information.
- Terminology – so that tourists will understand what is going on when a tsunami warning is issued, and so they do not get confused as to what certain words on tsunami warning signs mean.
- Maps (where to run when a tsunami strikes). These must contain a specific evacuation route full of familiar landmarks.
- Practical steps to be taken when a tsunami strikes.
Third, tourists should be given disaster supplies kits. When any disaster strikes, whether it is a tsunami or any other type of natural calamity, they should be able to grab this kit with all their most important valuables and run.
» After the Tsunami
A nation that has been hit by a tsunami or any other natural disaster will undoubtedly suffer the consequence of a lack of tourism. In the case of the December 2004 tsunami, the countries hit all saw a large reduction in tourism. (BBC News, 2005)
Efforts must be made to encourage tourists to return to tsunami-stricken countries. All it takes is a little effort from the country affected to make itself look safer and more attractive. All tourists are really waiting for is a confirmation that there are better tsunami safety measures. This does not necessarily mean that the country sets up early complex warning systems. Rather, this only means that the country makes new and safer building codes, and puts significant effort into the recuperation from the disaster. Example: after being hit by the December 2004 tsunami, Thailand immediately formed a tsunami restoration committee. This committee had the following goals:
- To develop measures for recovery and development of tsunami resources.
- To rezone and replan the tsunami stricken area
- To create of a Marine Watch Service Center
- To promote tsunami memorial products
- To establish a tsunami museum
- To enforce a “safer beach” design – requiring resorts to build farther from the shore. (Tourism Authority of Thailand)
The message is clear: tourists, who are in the country for only a short while, must be educated immediately and efficiently in order to prevent having a large number of tourist casualties; an occurrence that will definitely be a resounding blow to the tourism industry in both the long and short run.
1. BBC News. At a Glance: Tsunami Impact. [online] available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4154277.stm
2. Tourism Authority of Thailand. New Strategy for the Recovery of Tourism after Tsunami.[online] available from http://www.world-tourism.org/tsunami/news/58.pdf
3. Cruey, Greg. Tourism in Asia Starts Back. April 5, 2005. [online] available from: http://goasia.about.com/od/thailand/a/tsunamirecovery.htm
4. Kim, Susan. Tsunami Preparation Urged. [online] available from: http://www.disasternews.net/news/news.php?articleid=2671
5. McDaris, John. Tsunami Visualizations. [online] available from: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/visualization/collections/tsunami.html
6. Pacific Asia Travel Association. Tsunami Recovery: Travel Facts. [online] available from: http://www.pata.org/patasite/index.php?id=1137#2
7. Rice, Alison. Post-tsunami Reconstruction: A Second Disaster? Tourism Concern: Fighting Exploitation in Tourism. October 2005-10-31
8. Sritama, Suchat. Post Tsunami Tourism: Phuket Struggles to Reverse Slump. Business Section of the Nation. June 27, 2005.
9. Tsunami Hazard Awareness. [online] available from: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tsunami-hazard/tsunami_awareness.htm
10. UN News Center. UN Agency Seeks to Boost Tourism to Tsunami Hit Nations. 31 October 2005. [online] available from: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13505&Cr=tsunami&Cr1
11. 9. Wooldridge, Jane. Where Tsunami hit, Tourism feels a quake. The Miami Herald, June 19, 2005. [online]. Available from http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/living/travel/11931169.htm
The media is an important means of communication for natural disasters. These mass means of communication are advantageous because they “provide easy access to large publics and some of them constitute a robust communication system which remains working even in cases of a partial breakdown of the infrastructure” (Peters). Using the media appropriately can lead to improved coordination between disaster relief organizations and the population as well as better education for the population. Important means of communication for such situations include newspapers, television, radio, and the internet.
Radio, television and newspapers or magazines (or other similar printed media) are important means of mass communication since these are available in both Peru and Micronesia. In Micronesia, the radio is an important means of communication between the different islands. The internet can only be used for a small portion of the population since only 10% of the population in Peru, and 6% of the population in Micronesia has internet access (The World Fact Book, 2005).
It is important to note that in both countries the literacy rate is high—around 88% (The World Fact Book, 2005).
Language barriers in Peru do not seem a real challenge since the diversity of language is in the mountains as well as in the Amazon area. Spanish will be sufficient to effectively transmit the information. In Micronesia, however, there are several important languages. Since English is the official (and common) language, most of the radio broadcasting should be done in this language. However, special segments should be included in other languages. Regarding the television, broadcasts can be in English with subtitles in other languages and vice versa. In magazines and newspapers or other printed media, emphasis should be placed on pictorial information such as signs or maps regarding evacuation or flood zones. Explanations can be short and written in different languages.
There are two methods of presenting the information effectively. There can be an informative program describing tsunamis, their causes and effects and how to be safe and what to do in case of a tsunami. However, this should be balanced with personal encounters which would be more memorable and leave a lasting effect. A simplified example of such a method—targeted at children—can be seen in the Chilean website which describes how a fictitious family is able to survive a tsunami. This balance is necessary since plain facts would probably not catch the attention of the population; although these facts are important to know, the more personal stories will maintain interest and cause the population to react more effectively in case of a tsunami.
For the above ideas to be carried out, the media has to rely on the Planning Section of our group’s chain of command. The Planning Section would be in charge of gathering the adequate information from the adequate sources regarding tsunami education. This information should then be passed on to the media officials for educating the population. Agreements should be made between the Planning Section and the media for the information to be broadcasted in a regular and effective manner. A weekly relay would be sufficient to establish the regularity of an educational program; moreover, consideration for the long term transmission of information must be made. Constant and long term education is necessary to maintain the population aware of the tsunami threat, however, programming must be considered to not lose the public’s interest. This method of education thus relies on the Planning Section of the chain of command to provide the media with information; the media will only serve as a means for sharing the information.
The media can also serve to warn the population when a tsunami is expected or predicted. Below is an example of the pacific warning system (Tsunamis: The Great Waves). From this, certain important points can be taken. Information should be given to the media by some authorized organization—most likely the tsunami detection section—so that the population is correctly educated about tsunamis; the media then decides how to disseminate this information. This is applicable to both countries. Also, some kind of tsunami warning center can broadcast information directly, whether it is through radio or television (or an alternate source).
Warnings by the tsunami detection section should be distributed to the media with instructions of immediate broadcast. The media could then distribute this information to large portions of the population of either Peru or Micronesia. The detection section could similarly directly broadcast its information, whether directly to the public, or to governments and other organizations
There might arise two problems regarding this method of communication with the public. Firstly, if the tsunami issue is exaggerated, the population might not take it seriously and when there actually is a threat, the people will no respond correctly. This could be solved by having a long term plan, disseminating essential information in a trust-worthy method over a long period of time. Secondly, the media might not reach all people in tsunami hazard zones, especially those in isolated communities. In such cases, some mission must be developed to connect these communities to the radio or other media; the practicality of such a situation is questionable, yet several solutions have been proposed in the section above titled isolated communities.
1. CIA, (2005). The world fact book. Retrieved Sep. 22, 2005, from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fm.html
2. Peters, H. P. (n.d.). Natural disasters and the media. Retrieved Oct. 31, 2005, from http://www.chmi.cz/katastrofy/peters.html
3. Servicio Hidrografico y Oceanografico de la Armada, (n.d.). La boya infantil. Retrieved Sep. 21, 2005, from http://www.shoa.cl/
4. Tsunamis: The Great Waves. ((n.d)). Retrieved Sep 22, 2005, from Columbia Earthscape database.
Builders & Contractors
Although there are natural hazards in both developed and developing nations, developing nations are often more damaged. Generally, the most affected segment of the population is the poorest one (Freeman, 2000, Kreimer & Arnold, 2000). Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain this trend: poor people in general will have less of a choice when it comes to where to live and how to build their houses. They spend more time concentrating on more urgent matters of survival. (Kreimer & Arnold, 2000) Nevertheless, the benefits of prevention may be bigger than what many countries estimate (Parker, 2000). One very important part of prevention is the introduction of building codes and safer and more resistant building techniques. In this way, builders and contractors can be targeted especially to stop trends that exacerbate the risk of damage (Dilley, 2000)
The general populace are the ones choosing where to build, how to build and with what to build their homes since they are the ones who will be paying for it. Nevertheless; engineers, builders and contractors do play a key role in making different options available for the populace to make a better choice.
» Formal Construction Industry
Real-Estate companies: they will create housing that will then be sold to the general populace. A well informed real estate company could increase the demand for tsunami safe houses.
The creation of technical manuals would be helpful (Vermeiren, 2000). The quality of the engineers will be best improved by including pertinent courses in local universities and higher learning institutions. Also, technical seminars and conferences would be helpful.
- Engineers: Although engineers in developing countries are not heavily involved in small scale housing construction projects (Vermeiren, 2000) they should have the most expertise in building techniques. If well prepared, engineers could also play a role in briefing government officials on the matter of tsunami safe construction.
It is necessary to enforce the building codes. Moreover, the government could issue a certification for ‘tsunami-safe’ housing that will then imply taxing, insurance or loan incentives for the buyers and sellers. (Kunreuther, 2000) These will help people differentiate between non-tsunami safe and tsunami-safe housing, and justify possible differences in price.
» The Informal Sector
- Masons: they receive less technical instruction than engineers, yet they comprise a bigger part of the construction industry.
- General public: in many cases the general populace is in charge of constructing or partially constructing their homes (Vermeiren, 2000). In countries such as Peru, especially in rural areas, many people build their houses themselves with the aid of their families (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, 1989)
It is important to consider this informal sector, as it is the main source of housing for the poorer sections of the population.. Due to its lack of structure, this informal sector will require different communication techniques than those of the formal one. Parker (2000) indicates that communication campaigns for builders and general public fail to be as effective as they should be due to the size of the involved population, the low ability to learn new techniques, the lack of time and overly complex messages. Massive campaigns of communication for tsunami awareness should include the mention of better building techniques. The messages should be coherent and succinct; Parker suggests that ‘any presentation with more than three main messages is ineffective.
Community meetings directed to the groups in charge of construction would be a way of not only transmitting information but gaining feedback. In many cases international organizations (such as the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements) have been involved in the training and technical support necessary for builders to learn better building techniques. For instance, in Peru, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements helped establish training centers at building sites as well as published construction manuals that explained the safer construction methods (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, 1989). The government can also sponsor or supply such Technical education is given by many governments in developing countries and programs on tsunami safe construction could be included, either as independent courses or as a section of a more general building course.
The attention issue is something we cannot overlook. Parker indicates ‘the attention of the individual or potential victim is a finite commodity that should not be misdirected’, moreover, it seems that the time when people are the most susceptible to listening is precisely after a disaster takes place. Thus, after a tsunami has occurred and people are reconstructing their homes it is very important to create model houses and demonstration projects which will have a strong impact. Of course, the best course of action would be changing habits before the tsunami strikes, but in any case, the immediate period after a tsunami presents a unique opportunity for education.
The published national building codes must be affordable and readable by the general public. Kunreuther pinpoints reasons why there is not enough prevention for natural disasters: underestimation of risk, costs, lack of long term planning and expectation of assistance in the case of a disaster. To avoid underestimating of risks, mass communication campaigns could be effective. Safer techniques could be made to look more cost effective to the general public (Vermeiren, 2000). This can be done with the facilitation of better loans and tax incentives for tsunami safe properties, as well as long term low interest loans for home improvement (Kunreuther, 2000).
Although all the recommendations are based on general trends researched in many different developing countries, they should be valid in Peru and the Federated States of Micronesia. Field data should be used to verify whether these measures apply to both countries.
1. Kreimer, A. & Arnold, M. (Eds.) (2000) managing disaster risk in emerging economies. Washington D.C. World Bank. [includes papers by Freeman, Kreimer & Arnold, Kunreuther, Vermeiren, Parker, & Dilley].
2. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) (1989) Human settlements and natural disasters. Nairobi, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).
A tsunami, like other natural disasters, has the potential for many casualties. It is important that the people in the health sector are well informed and prepared for the aftermath of a tsunami to save the lives of the survivors. We think that the health program can be divided into two main categories: mental health and physical health.
People to target:
- General Practitioners
- Nurses and nurse aids
- The Red Cross
- Ministry of Health
- Voluntary Health Groups
While most health workers are aware of the diseases that may be prevalent after a tsunami, they are not aware of how to respond effectively to the disaster and what they should bring to help the survivors (Anjan P, 2005). There is need to assess the risk factor of contracting certain diseases which may be triggered by the tsunami such as malaria, hepatitis A and typhoid. (Asuri, 2000).
We think that most effective way of educating health professions is to hold seminars on how to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami. Seminars can be held once every six months where the above people can meet and deliberate on how best to provide the best service when a tsunami occurs. Incorporate the tsunami awareness in the curriculum of the training of the health workers.
People in the health sector have a role in educating the general public on sanitation especially after the tsunami so as to prevent spread of water borne diseases. They should teach the public how to erect temporary but hygienic toilets after a disaster. In addition people need to be taught how to get rid of waste that come as a result of a tsunami such as what should be burnt, dug into the ground or reused. Health workers may volunteer to perform plays on good hygiene to the public. Pamphlets and booklets can also be made for children and adults on how hygiene can be the most effective way to keep health and on where to seek medical health (OI Tsunami External Bulletin, 2005). We also think that the general public can be taught how to perform first aid so that they can be able to assist each other in minor injuries.
The demand for mental service will increase after a tsunami. The loss of families, belongings, homes and fear that the disaster may occur again are the main things that people suffer of after a tsunami ( Siegel C, 2004). There is need to train more mental health workers to cope with the increase in demand for the service. To cope with this increase in demand for service the Ministry of health should teach local health workers, priests, traditional healers, teachers and local community leaders about psychological consequences of a disaster and then enlist them as psychological counselors. Counselors should avoid telling their patients that the tsunami could have been worse and should let their victims express their emotions; let the bereaved mourn then help them to get over the grieving period. (Dr Gauthamadas).
Since the local health workers will not be spared in the case of a disaster there is a need to involve the international community in the health plan to boost up the number of workers. International health workers have to undergo intense training on how to deal with people of a different culture other than their own. In addition the workers need to be familiar with the common language in the areas they will be assisting for effective communication ( Dr Gauthamadas). In Peru the official language is Spanish and in Micronesia the official language is English but there are also other local languages for example Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro and Kapingamarangiso ( World Fact Book, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ ). The health workers especially psychiatrists to assist in Micronesia and Peru need to be able to communicate in the local and common language of the people they are to assist. Also the workers should learn the cultures and the religious beliefs of the people they are to assist. (Derrick S and Anthony B, 2005).
In Peru, the Ministry of Health has a plan for mental health care set up for the victims of the civil war but the ministry still lacks the financial and human resources. has roughly 400 – 500 psychiatrists for a population of 28 million. Perales and faculty members from the National University of San Marcus School of Medicine are working with the ministry of health in collaboration with Harvard Program in Refugee to train public health workers in mental health services. (Barbara Fraser, Oct 2004).
Micronesia attended a meeting with other countries in the Pacific region in 2004 whose agenda was to find a strategy to reduce deaths due to natural disasters like the tsunami. The countries founded a training center in and 400 Pacific medical and public health officials were trained. (http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=657747591&sid=7&Fmt=3&clientld=5482&RQT=309&VName=PQD)
The for Environmental Health, (NCEH) runs the Pacific Emergency Health Initiative (PEHI) which seeks to equip health personnel with necessary skills to be able to respond effectively to a disaster. Twenty-two countries in the nations are members of this organization. PEHI provides first responder training to health workers from the member countries and also training on how to deal with mass casualties. PEHI uses workshops ranging from 20 to 40 hours of training. (http://www.cdc.gov/nech/globalhealth/projects/projectspacific.htm)
This could mean that at least few foreigners may be required as the local health workers will be sufficient.
Based on the above information we think that more emphasis be put on the mental health. We plan that the WHO may train international health relief workers. In and we think there should be training centers, training more health workers and also we suggest the government allocate some funding to the ministry of health in addition to funds from the UN and other non-governmental organizations.
Most volunteer organizations train their own emergency volunteers. For example, the American Red Cross has an online video course that teaches the basics of emergency volunteering. Red Cross has trains volunteer workers to provide psychological support and comfort to the victims. The volunteers take care of the immediate need non-emergency medial problems and leave the more technical emergency work to the emergency responders. The American Red Cross course can be found at (www.redcross.org/donate/volunteer).
It takes approximately one hour. Presumably, one can sign up to volunteer for them and then receive more training. Other organizations have similar systems though few have online video courses.
In order to respond to tsunamis, volunteers need some additional training beyond the cookie-cutter training provided by the volunteer organizations. Specifically the volunteers need to understand the factual information about tsunamis, their effects and the post-tsunami procedures. They must be trained to explain why the victims may not be allowed to return home, and to tell the victims where to go and what to do. The written materials needed for this training should be prepared as part of and 's tsunami education efforts and should be distributed by the volunteer organizations to the volunteers. (www.redcross.org/donate/volunteer).
We suggest that the Peruvian and Micronesian government take the initiative of educating the volunteer workers in preparation for the disaster. It will be advantageous to have local volunteers since they can relate to the people better than international volunteers who may not be fluent in the local languages and unaware of the local cultures. Online courses may not be effective source of teaching volunteer workers in and , since not everyone may have internet access. Therefore we plan to have handouts to give to the individuals and also hold one-day workshops to train the health volunteers on how to conduct first aid, emergency management and health risks associated with a tsunami.
. Retrieved in October 2005.
6. OI Tsunami External Bulletin ; Retrieved from http://www.oxfam.org.au/world/emergencies/tsunami/updates/230205.pdf
. October 2005.
7. Anjana P, October 2005; Tsunami lessons not always followed in South Asian Earthquake Relief Effort, Voice of America.
8. Asuri, Koido, Nakamora, Yumamoto and Ohta: June 2000; Analysis of medical needs on day 7 after the tsunami disaster in Papua, New Guinea.
9. Barbara F, October 2005; Slow recovery in , pg115-116.
10. Derrick S and Anthony B, January 2005; Translating compassion into psychological aid after the tsunami: The Lancet
11. Dr Gauthamadas U, Disaster Psycholigical response; Academic for Disaster Management Education Planning and Training (ADEP).
12. Siegel C, Wan Derling J, Laska E: Copying with disasters: Estimation of additional capacity of the mental health sector to set extended service demands.
13. Stephen P. Indonesia struggles to resurrect health services.
14. Department of International Development Health Systems Resource Center: Country Health briefing paper. Available at: http://www.eldis.org/static/DOC11132.htm
While national and local administrators are likely to have predetermined procedures to follow in the event of a large-scale natural disaster, having a well-informed civilian populations will make national response much simpler.
In the event of an emergency, tone-alert radio systems throughout Micronesia and Peru will be activated (Mission 2009 Team 6). When a local radio begins sending out a warning, it would be simple to have the populace switch on their radios. In preparation for the actual disaster, we should work with local “insurance” providers and/or the exclusive power of government concerned with public welfare to offer some sort of reward to citizens who help relief efforts (Griffiths, 2005 and Pelling, 2003). Suggestions include rebates for donating food or blankets to storehouses, and gifts for assisting in emergency drill procedures.
Both Micronesia and Peru are almost entirely Christian. Most Micronesians are members of the United Church of Christ, and Peruvians are predominantly Catholic (Bureau, 2002). Because of the delicate balance between religion and government, there should be separate avenues of information through religious gatherings. Knowing that it is important to keep our information as un-alarming as possible, there may be some merit to asking religious leaders to mentally prepare congregations for disaster.
In order to overcome this trial, the general population needs to be informed. Simply speaking, the best way to protect a populace would be to give reliable forecasts of seismic or undersea activity (Benson, 2004). Because there is little warning for tsunamis, however, the next best plan is to familiarize the public with the disaster they are likely to face. A reasonable suggestion is to spend a day or two, possibly biannually, giving public demonstrations of our knowledge of seismology and tsunami risk using wave models and pictures of shorelines (Dalrymple, 1985).
In general, the demonstrations cannot rely on Internet connection. Thus, we’ll have to have durable physical models and occasionally portable video or DVD players. It is safe to assume access to an outlet to plug in a screen and/or speakers. By traveling to individual communities, we’ll be able to convey our information in the local language. The few who don’t understand our words can grasp the concept visually and can later converse with another citizen.
To reinforce our demonstrations, we would like to construct additional sources of information in large communities that can be visited throughout the year. One possibility is memorials to past victims to remind the public that disaster can happen and inspire them to be better prepared. Another more amiable suggestion is exhibits with permanent tsunami models and records of tsunami history such that current populations can familiarize themselves with the nature of the disasters and learn from their own ancestors about how best to react.
The final stage of our whole education plan is the response to an actual tsunami warning. The warning team will be using sirens to alert the public of the impending disaster. Our job is to design generic pictorial signage for use in near-shore communities and on beaches. The signs will remind passers-by of the direction to safety, but drills can normalize the situation prior to any disaster strike. The goal of rehearsed evacuation procedures is to make the public response almost second nature. To accomplish this, test sirens will be turned on at varying times of day and on weekends so that citizens can learn the best way to safety from both schools and offices and from home.
Another benefit of the drills is a process called Formative Evaluation Research, meaning they can be conducted while warning and evacuation systems are still being developed (Rice, 2001). Based on the public response to an initial evacuation drill, the warning team can determine appropriate siren volumes and locations, and we can analyze any hesitation in order to adapt our steps toward the ultimate goal of survival to each community.
1. Benson, C., & Clay, E. J. (2004). Understanding the economic and financial impacts of natural disasters (pp. 43-44). Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
2. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. (2002, October 7). International religious freedom report 2002. Retrieved October 18, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2002/13901.htm
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7. Pelling, M. (Ed.). (2003). Natural disasters and development in a globalizing world (pp. 176-182). New York: Routledge.
8. Rice, R. E., & Atkin, C. K. (Ed.). (2001). Public communication campaigns (pp. 5-8, 343-354). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.