Side by Side: Japan Highlights UN Development Programme collaboration on tsunami awareness in schools in Asia and the Pacific

Mar 29, 2018

The success of UNDP’s project on tsunami awareness and preparedness in schools, in Asia and the Pacific, is being acclaimed by the Japanese government in a specially commissioned video.

The two-minute film features a tsunami evacuation drill in Aceh, Indonesia. It shows how students are trained to react to a tsunami or earthquake warning, and to get to designated safe zones in an orderly manner.

Aceh was hardest hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed more than 200,000 lives.  While the memories of the tragic tsunami still linger, a new generation of students is growing up knowing the risks and warning signs of natural hazards, and how to stay safe in times of emergencies.  


The film was produced and sponsored by the Government of Japan, and is being aired by CNN across the USA, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa this month. It is part of a select series of advertisements, titled Side by Side, that illustrate prominent partnerships.

The film showcases the ultimate objective of the project: to reduce risks from disaster and limit the loss of lives, in the event of a tsunami. The Japan-UNDP partnership on Strengthening Schools’ Preparedness for Tsunamis in the Asia-Pacific region, has worked with schools in high tsunami risk areas to assess disaster risk, design emergency procedures, conduct awareness education, and practice safe evacuation.

UNDP_Aceh_evacuation_CNNPhoto: Tsubasa Enomoto / UNDP

Since June 2017, nearly 34,000 students in 65 schools, in 14 Asia-Pacific countries, have participated in the program.

We know that awareness building can save lives. We have been working with the government of Japan to ensure that school children in 18 Asia-Pacific countries, including in Indonesia, understand the risks of a tsunami, and what they should do to save themselves,” said Sanny Jegollos, UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction team leader in Bangkok Regional Hub. “The program focuses on preparedness activities based on Japanese experience and expertise.”

Under Japan’s leadership, the United Nations declared November 5, as World Tsunami Awareness Day, to spread knowledge about the danger from tsunamis. As tsunamis are unpredictable and can sometimes strike within minutes, being prepared means knowing warning signs, having clear emergency plans, safe evacuation routes, and safe zones. Tsunami preparedness also helps people to be prepared for other natural hazards like cyclones and floods.

The regional project “Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunamis in Asia-Pacific region, aims to bring tsunami awareness education and evacuation drills to 90 schools in 18 countries, in the Asia Pacific region. They include: 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.


More: Strengthening School Preparedness for Tsunamis in the Asia-Pacific region

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