World Tsunami Awareness Day

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2023 Date5 November 2023
2024 Date5 November 2024

World Tsunami Awareness Day

World Tsunami Awareness Day is an annual observance aimed at promoting global awareness on the risks associated with tsunamis and enhancing preparedness among coastal communities. It emphasizes the importance of early warning systems, education, and disaster risk reduction strategies to minimize the loss of life and property during such catastrophic events. This day provides an opportunity for governments, civil society, and individuals to engage in dialogue and exchange best practices for effective risk management and resilience building.

The United Nations General Assembly designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day in December 2015, in honor of the Japanese story of the "Inamura-no-hi," a tale of a farmer who saved his community from a tsunami by setting fire to rice sheaves. South Africa, with its extensive coastline, is no stranger to the potential threat posed by tsunamis. The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which affected many countries, highlighted the need for effective disaster risk reduction measures and early warning systems even in countries like South Africa that have relatively low tsunami risk compared to other regions.

In South Africa, World Tsunami Awareness Day is utilized to draw attention to the importance of understanding the threats and vulnerabilities associated with tsunamis. The South African government, together with various stakeholders, organizes seminars, workshops, and educational programs to raise awareness and advance the development of early warning systems and risk reduction strategies. Special attention is given to coastal communities, emergency responders, and decision-makers. World Tsunami Awareness Day takes place annually on November 5, providing a crucial platform to reinforce South Africa's commitment to minimizing the impacts of tsunamis and other related hazards.

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World Tsunami Awareness Day facts

  • By 2030, 50% of the world will live in or near coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms, or tsunamis according to the U.N.
  • The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami cost Japan most than $235 billion in damages. It was the most expensive disaster in the world.
  • Tsunamis can travel thousands of kilometers with speeds up to 800 kilometers per hour.
  • Portions of South Africa's coastal communities and infrastructure are vulnerable to tsunamis due to their low-lying areas and proximity to the shoreline. Coastal development and climate change, which contribute to rising sea levels, increase the risk of tsunami-related damage.
  • South Africa has recorded a few tsunamis in its history. The most significant tsunami event occurred in 1960 following the Great Chilean Earthquake, also known as the Valdivia Earthquake, which generated a tsunami that affected the entire Pacific Ocean basin and caused minor damage along the South African coast.

Top things to do in South Africa for World Tsunami Awareness Day

  • Learn more about tsunamis and how to recognize signs of an approaching one. Learn how to protect yourself at Tsunami Ready.
  • Research the types of natural disasters that can occur in your area. Know and understand what to do and have a plan in case of emergency.
  • Many documentaries and films on tsunamis are available, providing an in-depth understanding of their impact and the importance of preparedness. Consider watching these films as a way to commemorate the day.
  • Use your social media platforms to share information, videos, and infographics related to tsunamis and their possible impacts. Encourage your friends and followers to learn more about tsunamis and how to stay safe during such events.

References and related sites

UN: Tsunami Day

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