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World Tsunami Awareness Day 2020: History & Significance

November 5th is celebrated as the World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) every year. Read on to find out what are the causes & action plans designated for WTAD 2020.


It was December 2015 when the United Nations General Assembly considered and designated November 5th as the World Tsunami Awareness Day.

This day is marked for bringing in the various National governments, Non-Government Bodies, and most importantly the Civil Society to raise Tsunami awareness amongst the masses and share innovative approaches towards risk reduction. Tsunamis do not occur frequently but they are a combination of rarity with extreme deadliness.

The past century has observed 58 such tsunamis that have claimed more than 2,60,000 lives, with an average of 4,600 deaths each time a Tsunami strikes, which is much more than any other natural hazard. The most number of deaths during the 100 years were recorded in the tsunami of the Indian Ocean in December 2004 that affected approximately 2,27,000 lives & affected over 14 countries. The hardest-hit Nations included Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The rapid increase in rates of urbanization across various countries and an increase in seaside tourism, especially in tsunami-prone areas are generating more and more risks every year.

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We cannot avoid natural calamities but a reduction in the mortality rates during one can be achieved.


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A tsunami is a giant wave of ocean water created when there is some kind of disturbance underneath the ocean surface (an underwater earthquake.) A number of such waves displace a huge amount of water. These giant waves seem to be walls when they hit the shoreline. They can create dangerous impacts that might last for hours. Waves during a Tsunami hit the shore every 5 to 60 minutes.

A tsunami is a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance usually associated with earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean. | Image Credit:

What generates TSUNAMI?

  1. An  Earthquakes (Underwater): It can be generated by movements along fault zones associated with plate boundaries. Most strong earthquakes occur in subduction zones where an ocean plate slides under a continental plate or another younger ocean plate. All Earthquakes don’t lead to Tsunamis.
  2. A Landslide: If they occur in some coastal areas.
  3. A Volcanic Eruption: Violent eruptions generate impulsive disturbances, generating extremely destructive volcanoes.
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According to a UN estimate, over 700 million people live in the low-lying coastal areas and small island developing states and are thus, exposed to extreme sea-level events including tsunamis. With increasing rates of Polar Ice Caps melting due to global warming, these areas are becoming more and more prone to Tsunamis.

The Past two decades have witnessed the occurrence of Tsunamis that have caused an approximate 10% of the Economic Loss compared to all forms of disasters, holding back development in the affected regions. Countries that have their coastlines in The Indian and The Pacific Ocean have met with serious impacts in the past.

  • The Tohoku Earthquake of Japan in the year 2011, caused damages of more than 235 billion dollars and is considered to be the costliest disaster in the world’s history.
  • The explosion of The Volcano of  Krakatoa (Krakatau) in Indonesia on 26th August 1883 lead to one of the largest and most destructive tsunami ever recorded. The waves reached 135 feet, destroying coastal towns and villages along the Sunda Strait in the Islands of Java and Sumatra killing 36,417 people.

Simple & Effective Precautions:

UN disaster risk reduction UNDRR  is a body that observes this day in collaboration with the rest of the organs of the United Nations, ensuring proper addressal of the protocols dedicated towards all-natural hazards.

  • Tsunami early warning.
  •  Public action.
  •  And building back better after being hit by the disaster to decrease future risk.

These must be implemented with collective efforts from community leaders, disaster management offices, NGOs, and most importantly the citizens.

What Resources Do We Have For Better Risk Governance?

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Join the United Nation’s Social Media Campaign today using the following Hashtags: #TsunamiDay #Plan2survive

Also Read: International Day For Disaster Risk Reduction, October 13: It’s All About Governance Now

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  1. […] World Tsunami Awareness Day 2020: History & Significance […]

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