School Children Move Towards Tsunami Preparedness in Myanmar

Jan 29, 2018

Students take part in a tsunami drill Photo: Shobhna Decloitre/UNDP

School evacuation drills were organized in the outskirts of Yangon on 28 January. More than 300 students, teachers and principals participated in a tsunami evacuation drill to assess the schools’ emergency preparedness.

The drills involved 2 schools - Kaungyangon High School 1 and Letkokkon High School 1. The schools adopted an innovative evacuation model based on a good practice from Japan, where older students take care of younger ones. This helps to minimize the risk of harm, reduce fear and panic among younger students during the drill.

The evacuation drills were organized following a fictional scenario of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake that prompted a tsunami warning. The schools had 30 minutes to line up the students and walk them to safe areas. Students of Kaungyangon were evacuated to a nearby monastery, while those from Letkokkon were evacuated to a cyclone shelter.

Myanmar is prone to earthquakes, being located on one of the two main earthquake belts of the world and consequently people living in coast areas are very vulnerable to tsunamis.

The evacuation drills are part of a Government of Japan funded regional project for strengthening school preparedness for tsunamis in Asia and the Pacific, implemented by UNDP in 18 Asia-Pacific countries.

“Today’s drill has planted a seed that we hope will help schools, students and their families to be better prepared to respond to tsunamis. I am grateful that with the support from the Government of Japan, school children in Myanmar have joined others across the Asia Pacific region in learning how to remain safe during tsunamis,” said Peter Batchelor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director in Myanmar.

“Japan’s experiences and robust systems in ensuring community preparedness at all levels for mitigating the devastating impact of tsunamis offers concrete lessons and valuable pointers for similarly vulnerable countries. The Government of Japan is happy to support UNDP in sharing these lessons and supporting school children in Myanmar and in other countries across the region to be better prepared for potential tsunami occurrences in the future,” said Kazuyuki Takimi, Counsellor/Head of Economic and Development Assistance Section, Embassy of Japan.

In Myanmar, the project is supported by the Relief and Resettlement Department, under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Ministry of Education. The non-government organisation Seeds Asia is supporting UNDP to implement the project.

"The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is deeply committed towards tsunami awareness; we observed Tsunami awareness Day on 5th November last year. We think that it is crucial to raise community awareness not only on frequent disasters but also on infrequent disasters that can have a potential catastrophic impact. We do believe that 'Awareness does save lives'," said Dr Ko Ko Naing, Director General of the Relief and Resettlement Department.

The regional project for strengthening school preparedness for tsunamis in Asia and the Pacific is implemented by UNDP, in 18 Asia-Pacific countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. It contributes to the achievement of the Sendai Framework’s targets to reduce lives lost, numbers of people affected, and economic damage from natural and human-induced hazards. It also aims to achieve UNDP’s goal to help vulnerable regions to adapt to climate change by integrating disaster risk measures into national strategies.

Contact information

Shobhna Decloitre
Communications Specialist

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