Pandemic in a Tsunamigenic Country

U-INSPIRE Indonesia organized its biggest webinar by far based on the number of its participant. It was a National Webinar on Socialization of the Guide for Tsunami Evacuation during COVID-19. This webinar drew 1693 people to register from Zoom and YouTube. We are hoping to get more viewers on our YouTube channel to spread the message.

The Guide for Tsunami Evacuation during COVID-19 is the result of a collaborative work of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre of IOC-UNESCO and the Indonesian Stakeholders (BNPB, BMKG, ITB IATsI, and U-INSPIRE Indonesia).

Photo by George Desipris

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has been occurring for months. The President of Indonesia recently announced the “New Normal” policy. The application of the New Normal is done based on the Task Force analysis scheme in looking at the situation of risk perception compared to the social burden. New Normality means the application of the COVID-19 health protocol in all aspects carried out in a disciplined manner by individuals and collectives, in order to reduce unemployment, economic burdens, and potential social problems. However, we have to still think about a multi-hazard perspective. Earthquake and Tsunami are two of the main hazards in Indonesia.

This guide is intended for BPBD, BMKG Local offices, and Provincial and City Governments, and can also be used by the community and related stakeholders. It aims to provide steps that must be considered if evacuation is needed during a tsunami early warning crisis period, for example shortly after an earthquake and/or other triggers (underwater avalanches or volcanic eruptions at sea), when a tsunami hits, until after the threat of a tsunami is declared over, if it occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our webinar participants representing 178 BPBD, 24 Provincial BPBD, and 34 BMKG Local Offices and representatives of Local Universities, Government offices, Department of Health, and NGOs. Approximately 900 participants downloaded the Guide for Tsunami Evacuation during COVID-19.

The webinar started with understanding the risk of potential tsunami and collateral disaster. In a disaster emergency, especially during a tsunami threat, tsunami evacuation should be prioritized and override the “Stay at Home” instruction under the COVID-19 protocol. Tsunami monitoring and warning information will still 24/7, however, people at risk are advised to observe natural warning, preparedness for tsunami evacuation during COVID-19, and principles in tsunami evacuation based on the category of persons exposed to the COVID-19. The webinar also shared two lessons learned from Local Agency for Disaster Management experience of evacuation during flood and Metro TV broadcasting from a media perspective. Media plays an important role as a component of early warning in information dissemination. The media needs to fight hoaxes, namely by using reliable data sources so as not to mislead public opinion.

The COVID-19 health protocol should be implemented as best as possible during Tsunami Evacuation and on Shelters. BPBD (Local Agency for Disaster Management) was requested to read and fully understand the Tsunami Evacuation during COVID-19 guide to be able to develop a contingency plan and implement them.

For this successful collaboration event, we would like to express our gratitude to UNESCO, BNPB (The National Agency for Disaster Management), BMKG (The Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency), ITB (The Bandung Institute of Technology), and IATsI (The Indonesian Tsunami Experts Association).

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” — Charles Darwin

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