Preparedness plan in place to protect districts facing tsunami-linked risks

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Fourteen districts that are at risk in the event of a tsunami, should be prepared to deal with it in the event of an emergency, as the tsunami poses the greatest risk of disaster in this country, Director, Disaster Management Center, Sunil Jayaweera said.

The Tri-Forces have been trained and given powers to bring the people to a safe location if a tsunami occurs, he said, adding that he hopes to strengthen the organisation’s abilities, in specific areas, to be prepared for disasters, such as, floods, landslides and tsunamis. Jayaweera was speaking at a media conference organized by the Sri Lanka Preparedness Partnership (SLPP), which is the National Chapter of the Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP).The event was held on Tuesday at JAIC Hilton.

Seventy-seven tsunami towers have been installed in the country, and while these towers were previously operated by satellite technology, the Director said that they are now operated by security officials.

The SLPP is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and functions with the support of the secretariat of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. SLPP is currently co-chaired by the Disaster Management Centre (government), The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (private sector) and Janathakshan GTE Ltd, representing non-governmental organizations and local civil society organizations.

Jayaweera was raising awareness about tsunami risks and other disaster preparedness and notification methods. The National Disaster Management Plan for 2023-2030 is due to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval soon.

The purpose of it was to strengthening the Emergency Response Capacity of Local Humanitarian Actors in Asia, a project being implemented by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC)

Jayaweera said a tsunami could hit Sri Lanka from the East, the West, or the South. If such a situation arises, the Disaster Management Centre will take immediate steps to notify the public.

Abnormal animal behaviour and other natural phenomena, such as, the backward movement of the sea, are signs that could signify potentially dangerous situations.

Director –Operations, Janathakshan GTE Ltd., Co-Chair- Gothami Chandraratna, representing civil society organizations said: “If an emergency situation arises we will use text message services, apps, tsunami warning towers, radio communication, faxes, and the Disaster Management Centre website to inform people at the national level and via loudspeakers at the village level.”

She said that the SLPP, via collaboration between partners, improves most arrangements at the national, bilateral and multilateral levels. The initiative also paved the way for recognizing the role of local non- government organizations and private sector organizations, during the national progress review of the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and in updating of the national disaster management plan.

Chandraratna said that SLPP successfully completed its first operational cycle in July 2019 and in 2020 the second operational cycle was being implemented. It will be completed this month and once the third operational cycle starts it will enhance sustainable projects.

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