Saadatu Umar Ibrahim, Green Blogger

The word "tsunami" comprises the Japanese words "tsu" (meaning harbour) and "nami" (meaning wave). A tsunami is a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance usually associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean.

Volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, and coastal rock falls can also generate a tsunami, as can a large asteroid impacting the ocean. They originate from a vertical movement of the sea floor with the consequent displacement of water mass.

Tsunami waves often look like walls of water and can attack the shoreline and be dangerous for hours, with waves coming every 5 to 60 minutes.

The first wave may not be the largest, and often it is the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even later waves that are the biggest. After one wave inundates, or floods inland, it recedes seaward often as far as a person can see, so the seafloor is exposed. The next wave then rushes ashore within minutes and carries with it many floating debris that were destroyed by previous waves.

Tsunamis are rare. But they can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have perished in 58 separate tsunamis. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll has surpassed any other natural hazard. Tsunamis know no borders, making international cooperation key for deeper political and public understanding of risk reduction measures.

As a result, the UN General Assembly has designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and called on the world to mark it. Each edition of the annual day will be thematic: the focus of the first one, in 2016, is effective education and evacuation drills.

In 2020, World Tsunami Awareness Day encourages the development of national and community-level, local disaster risk reduction strategies to save more lives against disasters. This year’s observance promotes "Sendai Seven Campaign,” target (e).

The Sendai Seven Campaign –"7 targets, 7 years" was launched in 2016 by the United Nations Secretary - General, with the main objective of promoting the seven targets of the Sendai Seven Campaign over seven years. This is an advocacy initiative to encourage implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with the goal of saving lives, reducing disaster losses and improving management of disaster risk.

Each one of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for disaster reduction, are designated for each year of the campaign

• 2016 – Target (a): Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower the average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020- 2030 compared to the period 2005-2015

• 2017 – Target (b): Substantially reduce the number of people affected globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020- 2030 compared to the period 2005-2015;

• 2018 – Target (c): Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030;

• 2019 – Target (d): Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030;

• 2020 – Target (e): Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020;

• 2021 – Target (f): Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the present Framework by 2030;

• 2022 – Target (g): Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.

The date of 5 November was chosen in honour of a true story from Japan: “Inamura-no-hi”, which means the “burning of the rice sheaves”. During an 1854 earthquake, a farmer saw the tide receding, a sign of a looming tsunami. He set fire to his harvested rice to warn villagers, who fled to high ground. In the aftermath, he helped his community build back better to withstand future shocks, constructing an embankment and planting trees as a tsunami buffer.

Series of events took place every year in preparation of tsunami world awareness day,

 in preparation of the world tsunami awareness day this year(2020) UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in collaboration with other UN and external partners and under the sponsorship of the Government of Japan organized the following events.

1. Live screening & Panel on Tsunami Science and Tsunami Preparedeness | 13 October 2020, 08.00-10.00 UTC

Live screening (EN, FR) of the documentary "Tsunami: Facing The Global Threat", directed by Pascal Guerin and co-produced by ZED, ARTE and Curiosity Stream, a 52-minute film that follows a group of scientists as they head to Palu, Indonesia, in a rush against time to find out why the Palu tsunami was so deadly, before bulldozers level the ground and ahead of the Monsoon season.

The live streaming will be followed by a panel discussion (simultaneous interpretation

2. Regional Webinars

A series of webinars organized by the regional UNESCO/IOC teams in charge of coordinating regional tsunami early warning systems, and in cooperation with UNDRR regional offices. The webinars will focus on the need to connect state-of-the-art scientific expertise with local community preparedness to ensure science-based tsunami local plans are in place, including through UNESCO/IOC-lead Tsunami Ready recognition processes.

  • Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (3 November 2020, 10.00-12.00 AST)
  • Pacific Island States (4 November 2020, 01.00-03.00 UTC)
  • Tsunami Ready in Indian Ocean Island States (4 November 2020, 14.00-17.30 Jakarta time)
  • North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Connected Seas (4 November 2020, 10.00-13.30 CEST)
  • Southeast Pacific and Central America (10 November 2020, 14.00-16.00 UTC and 19.00-20.00 UTC)

3. Flagship Event: Third World Tsunami Museum Virtual Conference | 5 November 2020, 10.00-11.30 CET

There is limited public information on tsunamis that happened before the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Data, information, records and reports of the events are scattered and difficult to find, and there are limited or no eyewitness stories documented, and certainly no video documentation. The lack of this information makes it difficult to have local and contextualized information to raise awareness and preparedness of the local people.Museums may have records and documentation that could be used for public awareness purposes. There is still a significant amount of tsunami information and documentation that we need to preserve in Indonesia (1969 South Sulawesi; 1977, 1979 and 1987 East Nusa Tenggara; and 1965 and 1998 North Moluccas), the Philippines (1968 Luzon Island; 1976 Mindanao; and 1994 Mindoro) and many other countries. Building on the first and second World Tsunami Museum Conferences held in Japan in 2017 and 2018, UNDRR will organize the Third Tsunami Museum Conference as a virtual event that will combine the needs for scientific expertise and collective (community) memory and knowledge for an effective multi-risk hazard warning system, focusing on the topic: “Preserving Past Tsunami Information for Future Preparedness”.

4. World Tsunami Awareness Day: Ready for the Next Wave! | 5 November 2020, 12.00-13.00 CET

This event will aim to highlight the importance of having national and local tsunami plans to better protect communities at risk and encourage more countries to adopt plans; and identify challenges and share lessons learned in reducing tsunami risk and integrating tsunamis into multi-hazard disaster risk reduction strategies.

Raising awareness every year on tsunami and other natural hazard is very important most especially in present days where individuals are less conscious of their environment, and their is less or no community collaboration and development.

The legend behind world tsunami awareness day(story of the Japanese farmer) will greatly help in making the present and future generation realize the importance of sacrifice and the importance of working towards development of a community and the world as a whole.

When each and every individual take it upon himself to work towards developing and at the same time  keeping sustainability in mind, taking necessary precautionary actions needed, the impact of natural hazards such as the tsunami will be reduced by greater percentage each year.

About the Author: Saadatu Umar Ibrahim a 200level student of Environmental management Technology in Nigerian Army University Biu borno state Nigeria. She is also providing her services as a green blogger.