Karachi, 24 February 2020– The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the support of the Government of Japan launched the “Strengthening tsunami and earthquake preparedness in the coastal areas of Pakistan”, project in Karachi today. The overall objective of the project is to provide policy and operational support, at both the national and sub-national levels, through evidence-based research and analysis. The project also aims to enhance the resilience of coastal communities to coastal hazards in Sindh and Balochistan and expand their livelihood opportunities. It will especially be focused on some of the most vulnerable coastal communities of Karachi West, Malir and District Gwadar.

The project is being implemented with the coordination and technical support of NDMA, Sindh and Balochistan PDMAs, through Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), NED University of Engineering and Technology and Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

The occasion also marked the opening session of the International Workshop on “Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Tsunami Early Warning”, organized jointly by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC) and the UNDP Tsunami and Earthquake Preparedness project, in collaboration with the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD). The countries lying along the North-West Indian Ocean face the threat of tsunamis from the Makran Subduction Zone, which is not well-studied at present. Therefore, the workshop aims to discuss challenges and fill gaps in the existing early warning SOPs. The five-day event will bring together national and international tsunami and earthquake hazard experts and risk reduction practitioners. Experts will share findings from their respective countries and fields of work and engage in collaborative exercises on tsunami early warning procedures and related issues.

Mr. Muhammad Usman Manzoor, Program Officer, ECCU on behalf of UNDP Pakistan welcomed the participants and said, “Of the country’s 1,150 kilometers of coastline, more than 600 km lies within Balochistan province, with the remainder in Sindh province. Fast-growing cities along the coast are most vulnerable to Tsunami due to their proximity to the subduction zone. This project will closely work with national, provincial and district governments for promoting policy and legal instruments and instilling tsunami risk preparedness through enhancing institutional capacity of concerned authorities and departments through training and research.”

Mr. Ardito M. Kodijat, Head of the UNESCO-IOC Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC), emphasized that the countries bordering the Indian Ocean are much safer than they were in 2004. The objective of the UNESCAP project implemented by UNESCO-IOC in the region are to have better understanding of the Makran Subduction Zone and to enhance tsunami preparedness in the Makran Region to be able to respond to a near-field tsunami threat, by streamlining and integrating the national SOPs and early warning chains to a near field tsunami hazard. Adding to that he also stressed there is a need to focus on community readiness. UNESCO-IOC is currently piloting the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Progamme that can give recognition to communities having readiness based on the 12 indicators of Tsunami Ready. The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System will held the Indian Ocean Wave Exercise 2020 (IOWave20) in October, this would be a good opportunity for the community to participate in this International Tsunami Wave drills.  

Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Director General, PMD said that UNDP is committed to strengthening effective early warning systems in Sindh and Balochistan. UNDP’s Karachi office has remained engaged with the programme’s stakeholders in the province, particularly with coastal communities for making the community resilient to the threat of tsunamis.

Mr. Khalid Bin Majeed, Secretary General, PRCS added that tsunamis affect communities in many ways, leading to loss of lives and damage to assets/critical infrastructure. PRCS, in collaboration with UNDP Pakistan, works with coastal communities to prepare them for earthquake and tsunamis through raising awareness, improving community warning and evacuation capabilities at the village level, establishing youth groups in schools and hospitals and setting up village disaster risk management committees.

Dr. Sarosh Hashmat Lodi, Vice Chancellor, NED University of Engineering and Technology also added that it is most important to develop standardized and coordinated tsunami hazard and risk assessments for all coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

For additional information, please contact Ayesha Babar at ayesha.babar@undp.org 
or +92 (51) 835 5650 and Hamza Swati at h.swati@unesco.org or +92 (51) 260 0242

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