A Programmatic Approach for Regional Cooperation to strengthen Tsunami Early Warning Systems in the Makran Region : Recommendations Note, April 2017

1. Executive Summary

Since 2009, the Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness (TTF) managed by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has been raising awareness on the tsunami risk posed by the Makran Subduction Zone (MSZ) to countries in the North Western Indian Ocean (NWIO). In order to develop a programmatic approach to the Trust Fund’s engagement in the Makran region, ESCAP has commissioned a consultancy to provide an up-to-date analysis of the Tsunami Early Warning Systems (TEWS) for the NWIO, highlighting the areas requiring further cooperation at regional, national and local levels and to elaborate recommendations on strategic areas of regional cooperation between ESCAP and IOC-UNESCO and other key stakeholders to strengthen the TEWS for the Makran region.

The hereby presented Recommendation Note has been developed based on the results from a preceding study („Tsunami Early Warning Systems in the countries of the North West Indian Ocean Region with focus on India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan, and Oman” - see separate Synthesis Report regarding the status quo and existing gaps of TEWS in the NWIO countries, the discussions and interviews held during the NWIO Working Group (NWIO-WG) meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) in Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of) on 27th / 28th February as well as the outcomes from an analytical workshop organized by ESCAP and ICG/IOTWMS on 1st of March (Annex 1-3).

For Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan and Oman the main threat from the MSZ are near field tsunamis, with minimum travel times of even less than 30 minutes. India is in a slightly different situation with minimum tsunami travel times from the MSZ of > 1hour. The results from the previous analysis clearly indicate that the national TEWS are currently not fully capable yet to cope with the threat of near-field tsunamis from the MSZ. The analysis let to the conclusion that improvements in various fields from risk knowledge, warning service and delivery up to response capacity are required. The study illustrated that the progress of TEWS implementation in India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan and Oman varies considerably. While India and Oman have already managed to implement effective warning services at national level, the services in Iran (Islamic Republic of) and Pakistan are still at a development stage. On the other hand, the four countries face a number of shared challenges, especially regarding risk analysis, warning chains, SOPs and response capacity at community level. From the analysis, it was concluded that a more strategic and structured approach is required to improve the systems in a way that they can deal with the near field challenge in a consistent way.

Against this backdrop, a programmatic support process, as proposed by ESCAP, is considered appropriate as it would not only allow the promotion of and contributions to a more structured process to improve TEW with an end to end perspective in the participating countries, but it would also permit addressing interlinked gaps in a more comprehensive way and to achieve a better alignment with national processes.

The proposed programmatic approach should be based on regional cooperation. Even though the provision of tsunami warning is ultimately the responsibility and mandate of national governments, there are a number of challenges which can be addressed best by cooperation on a regional level. Especially the achievement of a better understanding of the risks from the MSZ, and the improvements of tsunami monitoring capacities (earthquake, ocean and earth surface movement monitoring) necessitate close cooperation between the countries. Working in a collaborative way also on the other identified gaps, as the improvement of inundation maps and warning chains and the development of evacuation plans is absolutely recommended as it provides unique opportunities for joint learning processes and exchange of experiences as well as the possibility to offer technical assistance in an efficient way. Such an approach will not only allow to draw on a broader base of technical know-how but would also benefit countries with lower resource capacities, which might not have the possibilities to conduct such processes by themselves.

The proposed programmatic approach comprises two phases of intervention of approximately two and a half years each and follows the logic of a structured process to build tsunami early warning and preparedness. Phase 1 will support the countries to establish the required preconditions to strengthen self-protection capacities at community level. This includes the improvement of warning services at NTWC level and national warning chains, the development of inundation maps and evacuation plans as well as initiatives by the science community to create a better understanding of the dynamics in the MSZ. Phase 2 will build up on the achievements of the first phase, strengthening ownership and understanding of the national systems by all stakeholders involved and the general public as well as addressing mechanism for up-scaling and roll-out of the previously developed and tested approaches especially regarding evacuation planning and warning mechanism at local level. Further essential topics, as risk analysis and response planning on local level will be addressed to strengthen the participating countries in establishing and providing the required services, guidelines and mechanisms to support communities in the implementation of self-protection arrangements against near-field tsunamis.

The outlined approach is in line with the current ICG/IOTWMS strategy and its focus on downstream processes and the recommendations, priorities and working process of the NWIO-WG. It complements the NWIO country processes, follows the principles of subsidiarity and respects the strategies, responsibilities and mandates of the participating countries. The support provided by the TTF shall focus on strategic inputs, capacity development and the support of pilot activities. Implementation in the countries will be responsibility of the participating member states and requires allocation of adequate human resources and budget. Oman is not an ESCAP member state, but member of the NWIO-WG and considered as a partner and provider of expertise and financial resources in the framework of the intended programmatic regional approach.

As the implementation of the TTF support process goes hand in hand with partner processes in the four countries, a steering and coordination mechanism need to be established. The project proposal shall clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of partner institutions and the required resources from partner countries as well as the support provided by the TTF fund in the different fields of intervention. The implementation process should be closely coordinated with the NWIO-WG. At national level a strong link to the disaster and risk management organizations on national and local levels is required.

The programmatic approach works across multiple levels, from international to local level. It includes the involvement of pilot areas at local level to assure that the mechanism under development are in line with community requirements and to create examples and lessons learnt for future roll-out. Since the very beginning, conditions for further up-scaling of the supported measures need to be identified and adequate mechanism should be agreed with the partner countries to assure future roll-out.

Regarding the provision of the support process, it is recommended to consider the formation of a small consortium under the lead of IOC-UNESCO involving organizations which contribute the required technical expertise and / or support implementation in the four countries. It is strongly recommended to make use of existing experiences and tools, which have been developed by various initiatives and projects in the context of the IOTWMS and other ocean basins. Especially the longstanding experiences in Indonesia to develop tsunami preparedness and early warning in the context of near-field tsunami are considered a valuable resource and reference for the NWIO countries. In this regards, the GITEWS/PROTECTS project has systematically documented these experiences (TsunamiKIT). The approach of Thailand to establish a warning chain which links the NTWC directly with the communities at risk might be an interesting reference for the NWIO countries and an opportunity for the TTF advisory council member Thailand to share their experience and lessons learned.

The proposed programmatic approach is linked to issues like multi-hazard approaches, community based disaster risk management, integrated coastal area / maritime management, resilient communities as well as the integration into public and private development processes. This is a field with a wide range of ongoing processes and interventions of numerous actors in each of countries as well as on the regional level. Such an environment requires a suitable coordination mechanism between project implementers, the national partners and ESCAP, which should be defined already in the project design, to avoid duplication of efforts and to make best use of possible synergies.

Within the programmatic approach a clear and realistic strategy for knowledge management and exchange of experiences should be considered. The existing mechanism of IOC-UNESCO with the ICGs at ocean basin level, the Working Group for Tsunami and other sea level related Warning and Mitigation Systems (TOWS) at global level and the various Tsunami Information Centres provides an excellent platform and should be systematically integrated into the approach.