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Chipiona beach. La Voz de Cádiz
Why has this holiday resort in the south of Spain been recognised as 'Tsunami Ready' by Unesco
Emergency planning

Why has this holiday resort in the south of Spain been recognised as 'Tsunami Ready' by Unesco

In 1755 the Bay of Cadiz area in the Andalucía region was hit by a massive tsunami which killed thousands of people and caused extensive damage, but the town in now fully prepared to react should the unthinkable ever happen again

A. González

Chipiona

Tuesday, 25 June 2024, 17:20

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The geographical location of the province of Cadiz in the Andalucía region of southern Spain makes it a high risk area for a tsunami. In fact, there has already been a precedent. The Bay of Cadiz area was hit by a massive tsunami in 1755 that killed thousands of people and caused extensive damage.

For this reason, many towns in the province have decided to prepare for this possible event and have drawn up different safety plans in the event of a tsunami. One of these towns is Chipiona that last week received the distinction of being deemed 'Tsunami Ready', an important recognition awarded by Unesco.

What is 'Tsunami Ready'?

Following the 2004 tsunami that devastated the coasts of Indonesia and Thailand and beyond, several international bodies developed initiatives to try to reduce the risks associated with such events. It was then that the Tsunami Unit of Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) was created.

Its goal, as defined by the organisation itself, is "to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods caused by tsunamis by providing support to IOC Member States in assessing tsunami risk, implementing tsunami early warning systems and raising awareness of preparedness measures among communities at risk."

This unit also evaluates the different tsunami safety systems developed by towns and cities to determine whether they meet the requirements set by UNESCO. Municipalities that do comply with these measures are awarded the 'TsunamiReady' distinction.

What are the requirements?

Unesco has established a series of indicators that are evaluated in order to award this distinction. The first indicator involves an initial assessment, which in turn is divided into three processes. To pass this indicator, the municipality must have mapped and designated tsunami hazard zones, calculated the number of people at risk and determined the economic and infrastructural resources are in place to be able to reduce the risk of a tsunami.

The second indicator relates to preparedness, and has, in turn, five further pointers. The municipality in question must approve easily understandable evacuation maps, place information and signage for said info in public places, make information resources available to residents, run outreach activities at least three times a year and conduct tsunami simulation exercises every two years.

The last Unesco indicator refers to the response phase. To pass this phase, it is necessary to have adopted a community-wide tsunami emergency response plan, to have the capacity to manage emergency operations, to have sufficient means to receive information about possible tsunamis, and to have the means to disseminate this information to the population.

Municipalities that pass the entire UNESCO assessment and each stage of the process receive the distinction of being 'Tsunami Ready', which determines that the area is prepared to minimise the consequences of a tsunami.

The case of Chipiona

The municipality of Chipiona received this recognition last week. This town in Cadiz has been designing safety plans for several years to act in the event of a tsunami and to avoid the possible consequences of such an event if it were to occur. The efforts of the municipality have now been recognised with the 'Tsunami Ready' town title granted by Unesco.

The risk of a tsunami is very real on the coast of Cadiz, which is why many other towns are also working on the design of emergency plans, following in the footsteps of Chipiona.

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