Palau – The Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu will receive Tsunami Preparedness Kits earmarked for schools as part of Phase II of the Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunamis in the Asia Pacific Region project funded by the Japan Partnership Fund and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
Mr Noud Leenders, Project Manager UNDP Disaster Resilience for Pacific Small Island Developing States (RESPAC) project said plans were in place to carry out tsunami awareness education and to conduct safe evacuation drills in schools to better prepare and respond to a tsunami warning, however, this has changed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“The travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 crisis has limited project delivery. Organising and conducting training and drills across countries has become more challenging. Tsunami awareness is still a priority and we will revigorate our focus in conducting drills once there is relaxation of travel restrictions, provided support is again available,” said Mr Leenders.
UNDP in its first handover to the Government of Palau last week, issued 15 sets of tsunami preparedness kits consisting of waterproof first aid kits, waterproof torches, reflector vests, ropes, hard hats, waterproof clip boards, coach whistles and waterproof storage containers to the Government of Palau, Ministry of Education (MOE).
Mr. Sinton Soalablai, Minister for Education stated “We are indeed grateful to the Government of Japan and UNDP RESPAC project for their foresight that despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, support has continued through the donation of Tsunami Preparedness kits. This donation is timely coinciding with World Tsunami Awareness Day 5 November. COVID-19 should not hinder us from continuing tsunami awareness in our country, because a tsunami can occur at any time during COVID-19 and beyond, and we do need to be ready.”
Mr Soalablai added “We are grateful for including people living with disabilities. Most of the time they are not in our conversations, but I am glad that this assistance recognises the most vulnerable in our schools.”
Speaking at the hand over, Ambassador of Japan in Palau, HE Karasawa Akira said, “Japan has suffered multiple tsunami in our recent history, our recent disaster was the great East Japan earthquake tsunami, in 2011, nine years ago. This memory is fresh, 15,000 lives were lost and of course since that happened, we have been working hard with tsunami preparedness in order to save lives in Japan but also reaching out to other countries and sharing our knowledge and experiences about tsunami. This project is exactly one of these attempts. I hope that people in Palau will utilize these items in case of an emergency for the protection of their lives.”
Palau will be the first country to receive the tsunami preparedness kits with the rest of the countries to follow in November.