Disaster risk reduction
Speaking at a United Nations General Assembly debate on Disaster Risk Reduction on April 12, I praised the partnership between Australia and Indonesia in managing the risk of disasters in the region.
The value of investing in regional Tsunami early warning systems was confirmed following this week’s earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Our regional neighbours received an Indian Ocean wide tsunami warning just seven minutes after the 8.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 6:38pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, April 11.
It was a great relief to all Australians and our regional neighbours when the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued a nil tsunami threat for Australia within 24 minutes of the earthquake.
Early warning systems are critical to saving lives and to reducing the risks and costs of natural disasters caused by tsunamis.
Our region gets more than its share of natural disasters and early warning systems are now agreed as essential to limiting their impacts.
Following the devastating tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and in Japan last year, the international community has become acutely aware of the value of investing in disaster risk reduction.
Australia is a strong supporter of international efforts to reduce the risk that natural disasters pose in developing nations – particularly countries in our region.
In May 2005, following the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Australian Government committed $69.8 million over four years (2005-09), to the Australian Tsunami Warning System initiative.
• provides a comprehensive tsunami warning system for Australia;
• supports establishment of an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system; and
• helps facilitate a tsunami warning system for the South West Pacific.
Through the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction, the Australian aid program has provided support to Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMMKG) to assist in quickly estimating the impact of earthquakes.
In eastern Indonesia, Australia is also supporting a program with funding of $1 million to assist communities to identify priorities for disaster risk reduction through mapping the parts of their community that are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters using a free ‘wiki-map’.
And in the Pacific, Australia has upgraded equipment at monitoring stations in 12 countries to strengthen tsunami warning capacity and measure sea level changes.