Filling a critical gap in end-to-end tsunami warning in the Southwest Pacific : a pilot project in Samoa to create scientifically robust, community-based evacuation maps

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Wright, K.C. (comp.); Beavan, R.J.; Daly, M.C.; Gale, N.H.; Leonard, G.S.; Lukovic, B.; Palmer, N.G.; Power, W.L.; Reyners, M.E.; Rosser, B.J.; Wallace, L.M.; Wang, X. 2011 Filling a critical gap in end-to-end tsunami warning in the Southwest Pacific : a pilot project in Samoa to create scientifically robust, community-based evacuation maps. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2011/53 2 v.

Abstract: GNS Science was contracted by the New Zealand Aid Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ) to undertake, in partnership with the Samoan Disaster Management Office (DMO), a pilot tsunami evacuation mapping and signage installation in Samoa. The project involved input from tsunami source and wave behaviour scientists, mapping experts, surveying experts and social scientists from GNS Science, and a wide range of agencies in-country including government departments and non-governmental organisations. The project commenced in February 2011, was conducted in eight stages, and was completed with the release of this report in December 2011. The project focussed on a science to practice approach, ensuring that robust tsunami science underpinned best practice in emergency management planning and community consultation. Where possible, the expertise and local knowledge of Samoan counterparts (particularly in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) was utilised, with considerable effort throughout the project to provide training and skills in-country. On completion in December 2011, evacuation maps, signs, and information boards had been produced, installed and evaluated in eight villages. The capacity and skills to continue the process throughout Samoa had been identified and confirmed, and the project evaluated as relevant, successful and sustainable. Public education in villages included workshops on tsunami sources and tsunami wave behaviour, the types of warnings possible and experienced for local, regional and distant source events, appropriate actions in response to warnings, and location and marking of at-risk zones, evacuation routes and safe locations. The partnership model for this project has allowed for considerable professional development within Samoa, for those involved in the mapping, village consultation, and evacuation evaluation stages. The application of science to practice in creating products and developing knowledge for Samoa communities has proven to be successful and appropriate. In-country government and village participation rates and enthusiasm levels have been high throughout the project. We believe that this project, which was based on similar smaller projects in New Zealand, shows great promise to be adapted for other countries. (auth/DG)