Coastal Hazard Early Warning Systems in Pakistan: Tsunami and Cyclone Early Warning Dissemination: Gaps and Capacities in Coastal Areas of Balochistan and Sindh Provinces

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If a large earthquake were to occur off the coast of Pakistan and trigger a tsunami, residents of fishing villages would need to act quickly in order to escape. A tsunami caused by an earthquake in this region in November 1945 claimed hundreds of lives. Most of the fatalities occurred along tidal creeks of the Indus River Delta, where people scarcely felt the original earthquake. Today, many of the villages in the Delta can still only be reached by boat, and telecommunications are limited. These circumstances add to the challenge of alerting local people to the danger of any incoming tsunami. This study, supported by Oxfam GB, underlines the extent of this challenge. It analyses the limitations of early warning dissemination systems in the coastal belt of Pakistan and investigates opportunities for strengthening them. It highlights the vulnerability of coastal communities in the face of natural hazards such as tsunamis and cyclones, due to their isolation, the limitations of communications infrastructure and limited awareness and preparedness of local authorities.
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS NOVEMBER 2016 Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not necessarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the research team and not necessarily those of Oxfam.  www.oxfam.org COASTAL HAZARD EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS IN PAKISTAN: GAP ANALYSIS Tsunami and Cyclone Early Warning Dissemination: Gaps and capacities in coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh Provinces JAMILA NAWAZ PROGRAMME MANAGER, DISASTER RISK REDUCTION & CLIMATE CHANGE, OXFAM IN PAKISTAN GHAZALA NAEEM CONSULTANT, RESILIENCE GROUP If a large earthquake were to occur off the coast of Pakistan and trigger a tsunami, residents of fishing villages would need to act quickly in order to escape. A tsunami caused by an earthquake in this region in November 1945 claimed hundreds of lives. Most of the fatalities occurred along tidal creeks of the Indus River Delta, where people scarcely felt the srcinal earthquake. Today, many of the villages in the Delta can still only be reached by boat, and telecommunications are limited. These circumstances add to the challenge of alerting local people to the danger of any incoming tsunami. This study, supported by Oxfam GB, underlines the extent of this challenge. It analyses the limitations of early warning dissemination systems in the coastal belt of Pakistan and investigates opportunities for strengthening them. It highlights the vulnerability of coastal communities in the face of natural hazards such as tsunamis and cyclones, due to their isolation, the limitations of communications infrastructure and limited awareness and preparedness of local authorities.  2 Coastal Hazard Early Warning Systems in Pakistan CONTENTS   Summary ........................................................................................................... 4   1   Background ................................................................................................ 5   2   Introduction ................................................................................................ 7   Methodology ................................................................................................... 7 3   The current situation ............................................................................... 11   3.1 Early warning dissemination agencies .................................................... 11 3.2 Emergency responders ........................................................................... 16 4   Field survey of coastal communities ..................................................... 18   5.1 Data analysis........................................................................................... 23 5   Requirements for an effective early warning system ........................... 24   6   Conclusion and recommendations ....................................................... 27   Recommendations ........................................................................................ 28  Acknowledgements ....................................................................................... 30 Notes ............................................................................................................. 30  3 Coastal Hazard Early Warning Systems in Pakistan  ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS  AHD Association for Humanitarian Development dB Decibel DCO District Coordination Officer DDMA District Disaster Management Authority DRM Disaster risk management DRR Disaster risk reduction EWS Early warning system FGD Focus group discussion GPA Gwadar Port Authority GSM Global System for Mobile Communications HF/VHF High frequency/very high frequency IOC-UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO IOTIC Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Center IRC Indus Resource Centre KII Key informant interview KPT Karachi Port Trust MSZ Makran Subduction Zone NDMA National Disaster Management Authority NRSP National Rural Support Programme SMETWC Seismic Monitoring and Early Tsunami Warning Centre PCG Pakistan Coast Guards PTWC Pacific Tsunami Warning Center PMD Pakistan Meteorological Department PDMA Provincial Disaster Management Authority PMSA Pakistan Maritime Security Agency RCDC Rural Community Development Council SOP Standard operating procedure TCCR Trust for Conservation of Coastal Resources TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol TEWS Tsunami Early Warning Systems UNDP United Nations Development Programme WWF World Wide Fund for Nature  4 Coastal Hazard Early Warning Systems in Pakistan SUMMARY If a large earthquake were to occur in the volatile Makran Subduction Zone (MSZ) off the coast of Pakistan and trigger a tsunami, residents of local fishing villages would need to act quickly in order to escape. A tsunami caused by an earthquake in the MSZ in November 1945 claimed hundreds of lives. Most of the fatalities occurred along tidal creeks of the Indus River Delta, where people scarcely felt the srcinal earthquake. Today, many of the villages in the Delta can still only be reached by boat, and telecommunications are limited. These circumstances add to the challenge of alerting local people to the danger of any incoming tsunami. Time is much more limited than in the case of cyclones, where communities may have 2  –3 days’ warning rather than hours or minutes. This study, supported by Oxfam GB, underscores the extent of this challenge. It analyses the limitations of early warning dissemination systems in the coastal belt of Pakistan and investigates opportunities for strengthening them. It highlights the vulnerability of coastal communities in the face of natural hazards such as tsunamis and cyclones, due to their isolation, the limitations of communications infrastructure and limited awareness and preparedness of local authorities. The report is based on field surveys carried out in 10 selected villages in four coastal districts in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, including focus group discussions, household surveys and informal interactions with community members and other important stakeholders in each community, together with a literature review of the capacities and disaster management protocols of key authorities. Data analysis of the field surveys shows that coastal villages have limited links to official warning systems through means such as landlines, mobile phones and the Internet. Only one of the villages surveyed has access to landline telephones and none has access to satellite phones, while GSM coverage is limited in many communities. The organizations responsible for generating and disseminating coastal hazard early warnings use all of these communication networks to relay information. However, currently the only method used to communicate this information over the final mile to remote coastal communities is notification in person, with officials physically travelling to the location to relay warnings. The Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG) have a considerable presence along the coastline and the agenc y’s coastguard posts could  be used to effectively disseminate information via its high frequency/very high frequency (HF/VHF) radio network, as well as personal notifications in combination with other types of notification system. In communities where dissemination is not possible via PCG posts (e.g. Sirki and Sonth villages in Gwadar), satellite-activated mass notification systems (using, for example, Inmarsat satellite systems to activate sirens) and satellite phones could be an effective channel. The report also discusses the standard operating procedures (SOPs) adopted by the authorities responsible for the dissemination of coastal hazard early warnings and for emergency response and disaster management. It discusses their limitations both in relaying warnings and in responding to an emergency, such as the lack of appropriate means  –  such as boats and helicopters  –  to cover the last mile in difficult-to-access coastal areas. If an earthquake hits the area, it may be less than half an hour before a tsunami strikes. The report provides specific recommendations to improve the dissemination of early warning information and the management of risk. As well as technical solutions, these address land use management, training of communities, research and database development, a clearer delineation of responsibilities by coordinating SOPs amongst stakeholder agencies and enhancing the capacity of the media to convey early warnings.
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