Vanuatu’s first Tsunami Early Warning System, will soon becoming fully operational. The system is managed by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) of the Ministry of Climate Change.

The project is funded by the Government of Japan— Policy and Human Resource Development Trust Fund (PHRD) through the World Bank Group. It is called Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Vanuatu. Under this project is the component “Establish a tsunami Warning system for Port Vila and Luganville”, which process for implementation began in 2013.

Manager of the Geohazards Division of VMGD, Esline Garaebiti says the

whole project fund for the project is Vt251 million.

This project component covers five components: refurbishment of the

National Warning Center and the emergency operation center, the data

center and communication system equipment, the warning dissemination

system as the tsunami siren, the tsunami signage and the evacuation planning which includes the tsunami evacuation maps, tsunami information boards and the tsunami evacuation signs. The development of these tools warranted heavy involvement of the communities.

Ms. Garaebiti says the component 2 entitled “Establish a tsunami warning system for Port Vila and Luganville” which Geo-hazards Division is highly involved in cost Vt136.5 Million.

The two sites where the project for the Tsunami Early Warning System is

being implemented and the Greater Port Vila covering the Southeast Efate area that stretches from Mele village to Eratap and covers Hiideaway Island, Blacksands, Port Vila, Ifira and Iririki Islands, Pango, Erakor, and Eratap villages. And Greater Luganville, stretching from South Santo to Teproma, and covers Usa, Luganville, Aore, Tutuba, Parisa, Lopelope and Teproma.

There are nine sirens installed in the Greater Port Vila area and 10 sirens in the Greater Luganville area. In the Greater Port Vila area, the sirens are located at Mele, Blacksands, Seafront in Port Vila, Tasariki, at the Ministry of Climate Change, Ifira Point, Pango village, Erakor village and Eratap village. In the Greater Luganville area, the sirens are located at Usa, five in the Luganville town area including one at the Town Hall, three on Area Island, and Banban.

The control center for the sirens is located in the National Warning Center

of VMGD at the Ministry of Climate Change in Port Vila. According to the level of threat, the staffs on duty could select only certain areas to sound the alarm or every siren at the same time.

VMGD started installing the sirens last year and only completed the work

with the last two sirens installed at Aore Island off Luganville in May.

Installation of sirens has taken place together with that of tsunami evacuation signs and information boards in the two designated areas for the project. Altogether, 52 information boards and evacuation maps were installed in the Greater Luganville area and 74 in the Greater Port Vila area.

All the tsunami evacuation signs, tsunami evacuation maps and tsunami

information boards, internationally recognized with the colors blue and

white and using symbols for those who can’t read, are all in the three official languages – Bislama, English and French.

A lot of community consultation was conducted before production of

the information boards, tsunami signs and evacuation maps followed

by installation beginning in May last year, says Morris Jim Harrision,

Principal scientific officer seismology, the person responsible for the

community consultations.

“At community consultations, it was decided that Disaster Committees would be responsible for the sirens, the tsunami information and sign boards installed in their areas to create community ownership and VMGD helped with transportation to the villages for them to install,” he says.

After installation, it was found that some of the information boards and

signs were vandalized, with holes through them, indicating that stones,

metal and other items were used to damage the sign boards.

Generally, vandalizing of such items appear to be a big problem in Vanuatu, when you look at the traffic signs in the two most civilized centers of Port Vila and Luganville, either turned in the wrong direction or just damaged totally.

It is expensive to have damaged signs and boards, even sirens, replaced.

Now, they are working to replace the damaged signs and boards before implementation of the final component of the project which is the tsunami drill exercise to prepare the people in Luganville and Port Vila to better react to Tsunami warning through the knowledge of their tsunami information board, tsunami evacuation signs and tsunami evacuation.

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