In December 2015, the UN General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day.
Tsunamis are rare. But they can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have perished in 58 separate tsunamis. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll has surpassed any other natural hazard. Tsunamis know no borders, making international cooperation key for deeper political and public understanding of risk reduction measures. As a result, the UN General Assembly has designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and called on the world to mark it.
World Tsunami Awareness Day was the brainchild of Japan, which due to its repeated, bitter experience has over the years built up major expertise in areas such as tsunami early warning, public action and building back better after a disaster to reduce future impacts. The date of 5 November was chosen in honour of a true story from Japan: “Inamura-no-hi”, which means the “burning of the rice sheaves”. During an 1854 earthquake, a farmer saw the tide receding, a sign of a looming tsunami. He set fire to his harvested rice to warn villagers, who fled to high ground. In the aftermath, he helped his community build back better to withstand future shocks, constructing an embankment and planting trees as a tsunami buffer.
The UN General Assembly has tasked the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to facilitate the observance of World Tsunami Awareness Day in collaboration with the rest of the United Nations system.
The observance of the day would help to spread awareness among people across the world in matters related to the dangers of tsunami and shall stress on the importance of early warning systems in order to mitigate damage from the often devastating natural hazard. It also aims at reviving traditional knowledge about tsunamis.