CDEMA launches public awareness programme to educate region about Tsunamis

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) will launch the public awareness component of the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System (TCHWS) project on Wednesday 28th October, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

“CDEMA’s extensive reach within the regional disaster management community ensures that the material produced under the project will be widely disseminated,” commented Dr. Richard Robertson, Director of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre (SRC), adding that he was pleased to be collaborating with CDEMA on the TCHWS project.

Dr. Robertson further noted that, “The involvement of the SRC also means that the information will be scientifically sound.”

The launch of the Tsunami Awareness programme precedes two days of workshops on October 28th and 29th and a public awareness programme in four pilot states. The workshops will bring together curriculum development, education and communication specialists, national disaster officers and scientists from all eighteen CDEMA participating states. The sessions are designed to facilitate the introduction, review and enhancement of draft educational and public awareness products which are to be used in the campaign to prepare CDEMA states to respond to tsunamis and other coastal threats. The workshops will also provide opportunities for the further development of country-specific tools and material for use in individual states.

CDEMA’s Executive Director Jerry Collymore describes the public awareness programme as “fundamental” to disaster risk management in the region, adding that education and awareness are important pillars for building a culture of disaster risk reduction, a new element of the CDEMA mandate.

“The Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Project is part of the regional agenda to address all critical to engaging a diversity of new stakeholders and partners,” he said.

The products under review include a suite of multimedia products for use among the general populations and teacher educational material for the 12-15 year old age group. The material is being developed by The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre (SRC) as part of the TCHWS project’s efforts to support the proposed Caribbean Tsunami Warning Centre.

Minister of State with responsibility for disaster management, Donna Cox, Executive Director of CDEMA, Jeremy Collymore, and Trinidad and Tobago’s National Disaster Coordinator, Colonel George Robinson, are among those expected to attend.

The TCHWS project began in 2007 and has been funded with approximately US$475,200, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This project supports the development of a comprehensive tsunami and other coastal hazards warning system for the Caribbean and adjacent regions currently being coordinated by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE). The project will end in March 2010.

The workshops are being organised in association with the Office of Disaster Preparedness in Trinidad and Tobago and facilitated by the SRC.