International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

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Regional Workshop:
"Program for a Tsunami Early Warning System in Central America"

On May 26-27, 2005 the Regional Workshop for establishing a "Program for a Tsunami Early Warning System in Central America" took place in Managua, Nicaragua. The event was organized by the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) and the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER). Experts in the fields of seismology, geology, oceanography, education and training, as well as civil protection officials, member of Central American National Emergency Commissions and international invitees gathered in Managua to identify projects, elements and activities that will contribute to establishing a Tsunami Early Warning System in Central America. This regional meeting provided participants with the opportunity to meet one another, and exchange information, experiences and lessons learned from other countries and regions of the world. The also analyzed tsunami-related hazards in Central America, and discussed the progress made by INETER in Nicaragua.

Background

In1992, a tsunami struck the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, causing death and destruction along the coastal areas of this country. This event represented the starting point for INETER to conduct regional studies related to Tsunami early warning systems.

Ten years after this event, some progress had been made in this field and, during the Hemispheric Conference on Early Warning, held in Antigua, Guatemala in 2003, the issue gained momentum. The Conference allowed the region to prepare for the Second International Conference on Early Warning (EWC-II) that took place at the end of 2003. A number of regional commitments resulted from this conference, which led to the creation of the "Central American Program for Tsunami Warnings". In addition, El Salvador and other Central American countries were included in the ITSU, and there was a regional commitment to foster the implementation of a Tsunami Regional Early Warning System.

After a devastating tsunami hit the Asian region in December 2004, this issue resurfaced at both regional and international levels, renewing in this manner the aspirations to establish a Regional Early Warning System in Central America. Opportunely, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction was held in January 2005, in Kobe, Japan. This conference represented another opportunity for the Central American delegates to express their concerns about tsunamis and the need to protect the region through the creation of a tsunami early warning system.

In this context, the Central American -UNESCO Meeting was held. In attendance were the heads of the National Emergency Commissions from Central America, as well as officials of the United Nations University (UNU-EHS) and the International Tsunami Information Centre. The primary purpose of this event was to analyze the status of tsunami early warning in Central America.

Furthermore, on February 9-10, 2005, representatives of scientific and civil protection institutions, and organizations working on disaster reduction in Central America, met in San Salvador with the purpose of beginning to follow-up on the recommendations of the CA-UNESCO Meeting. On that occasion, the representatives agreed to hold a Regional Workshop on Tsunami Early Warning to determine which project profiles would constitute the Program for a Tsunami Early Warning System.

Program's components

The following components were identified as a result of this program:

1. Goals

  Improve strategies for tsunami detection, forecasting,   

    warning, preparedness and mitigation;

  Improve and further develop existing tsunami early warning

    systems in Central America in order to increase their

    coverage, reduce false alarms and make predictions and  

    warnings more accurate for the Pacific and Caribbean

    coasts, as well as in the region's great lakes;

  Increase efforts to map the region, develop models and  

    conduct research in order to improve forecasting and  

     preparedness, and mitigation and response measures in the

    event of a tsunami;

  Improve or increase the level of education and training on

     tsunamis, and ensure that people receive tsunami warnings.

    It is also important to make sure that at-risk populations

    know what to do when a tsunami is approaching.

  Provide technical assistance and other support to enhance

   international efforts aimed at establishing tsunami early  

    warning systems in the Caribbean Sea; and,

  Improve national, regional and international coordination

    efforts for preparedness and tsunami warnings, as well as

    other related hazards in the coastal areas of Central

    America.

2. A Tsunami Prediction and Warning Program

   Analyze the performance of seismic networks in countries

     of the region regarding their capacity for processing data on

    strong earthquakes. Recommendations will be made to

     these countries on how to improve their data-processing

    capacity;

  Implement technologies for incorporating broadband

    stations from Central and South America, and the

    Caribbean into a visual seismic network for processing data

    on strong earthquakes;

  Develop and implement methods for rapid broadcasting of

    warning messages to the population;

  Establish processes that guaranty the receipt of messages

    from the PTWC in CNE, seismic networks and CNA; and,

  Prepare national and regional communication and warning

    plans.            

3. A Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program

  Create the Regional Coordination Committee, which will be  

    made up of the following National Emergency Commissions:

    SINAPRED, SINAPROC, COPECO, CNE and COEN

    CONRED;

  Prepare a plan to develop educational and social

    communication processes for tsunami disaster reduction, as

    part of the early warning system; and,

  Establish strategies for tsunami risk reduction.

4. A Tsunami Research Program

  Establish national tsunami research programs in order to

    develop or apply appropriate science and technology for the

    detection, forecasting, communication and mitigation of

    tsunami-related disasters. This should include measurement,

     information and communication techniques and technologies,

    as well as processes for data collection and analysis, the

    assessment for tsunami detection methods, and numeric

    modeling for predicting the potential effects of tsunamis.

Declaration of Managua
(http://www.cepredenac.org/declaratoriamanagua.htm)

The first outcome of this workshop was the Declaration of Managua. This instrument compiled the main results and recommendations of this event. In addition, it encouraged the national authorities of participating countries to support and endorse the agreements adopted during this meeting and to continuously follow up on their implementation.

Action Plan 2005

The participants in the workshop prepared and agreed upon an Action Plan for 2005. This plan is aimed at institutionalizing the Regional Tsunami Early Warning System in Central America, ensuring the incorporation of Central American countries into the International Tsunami Warning System, and facilitating relevant information to ITSU.            

Approximately 80 officials from the following institutions participated in this event: From Guatemala: CONRED, INSIVUMEH, Executive Secretariat of CEPREDENAC and University of San Carlos. From El Salvador: COEN, SNET and USAID/OFDA. From Honduras: COPECO and Port Enterprise.    From Costa Rica: CNE, CASC, the National University, CRRH, IMN, UCR, CEC, ICE, Infosistemas and GEOMAR/Germany. From Panama: SINAPROC, the Geosciences Institute, CHIRINET, ETESA and Hydro-Meteorological Services.   From Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico. From the Dominican Republic: Civil Defense. From Colombia: OSSO. From the United States: King Collage London. From Cuba: CENAIS. From Argentina: COSUDE. From Germany: the United Nations University's Institute for the Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), and Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning (PPEW)- UN/ISDR and GTZ, Potsdam. From Japan: JICA. From the Czech Republic: Czech Geological Service. From Nicaragua: SINAPRED, INETER, COSUDE, Civil Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TELCOR, the General Fire Service Administration , the National Police Academy, CARE, AMUNIC, The Mayor's Office of Corinto, El Tránsito, MINSA, ECHO and the Humboldt Center.

The Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) would like to acknowledge the work done by the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER), and the valuable support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Strategy for Risk Reduction (ISDR), the International Tsunami Information Centre (ITSU), Hawaii, and the Central American Seismological Center (CASC).

For more information please contact:
cepredenac@cepredenac.org

 


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