About the Project


The National Capacity Assessment of SOPAC Member Countries: Tsunami Warning and Mitigation Systems project worked in collaboration with the member countries of SOPAC. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) led the project in partnership with SOPAC and the Australian Attorney-General's Department (AGD, formerly Emergency Management Australia). Other partners involved included the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission a division of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO/IOC), United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Tasmanian State Emergency Service, the New South Wales State Emergency Service and the University of Guam.

The project was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) under the Pacific Governance Support Programme (PGSP). It was implemented under an agreement (Schedule 5 to the Record of Understanding 14304, June 2006) between AusAID and the Bureau). The 14 SOPAC Member Countries who participated in the project were the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Broad Project Aim

By undertaking an assessment of the capacity of individual nations to manage tsunami events, the tsunami capacity assessment project aimed to better guide donor funding and national strategic efforts towards achieving targeted improvements in the tsunami warning and mitigation systems of each country.

Key Project Outputs

The key deliverable of the project was a comprehensive set of reports, including one National Report specific to each country, detailing the strengths and opportunities for improvement of the country with regard to tsunami warning and mitigation. These reports are available on this website. The national report for each country also includes recommendations to address priority issues. The consolidated Regional Report aims to identify common issues across the Region with regard to tsunami warnings and mitigation.

Project Methodology

National assessments in each SOPAC Member Country were conducted by visiting teams including experts in the fields of tsunami warnings, emergency management, disaster risk reduction and data and warning communications. The visiting teams met with in-country experts during a four-day workshop involving government agencies, the private sector, non-government organisations and regional and international organisations involved in tsunami and disaster risk management.

The workshop completed a questionnaire covering all aspects of tsunami warning and mitigation and gathered information to support the questionnaire responses. This information then fed into the National Report. Consultation with individual countries before completion of the report was an integral part of the report writing process.

The questionnaire for the SOPAC Member Country Countries in the Pacific was a modified version of that used for the Indian Ocean equivalent project. The Indian Ocean questionnaire was jointly developed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission a division of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO/IOC), SOPAC, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). Click here for more details of the Indian Ocean equivalent project.

Underlying Policy Objectives of the Australian Tsunami Warning System Project

The Bureau in partnership with Geoscience Australia (GA) and AGD, completed a four-year project to establish an independent Australian Tsunami Warning System (ATWS) in June 2009. One of the three policy objectives of the ATWS project was "to contribute to the facilitation of tsunami warnings for the South West Pacific". The Tsunami Capacity Assessment Project, contributed to the achievement of this policy objective. Also, as part of the implementation of the ATWS, Australia has and will continue to contribute to the facilitation of more effective tsunami advisory bulletins to Pacific Island Countries (PICs) through the provision of seismic and sea level observations to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii.

Tsunami Warnings in the Pacific

Tsunami warnings for the Pacific Ocean are issued by the PTWC in Hawaii as the United States of America's (USA) contribution to the UNESCO/IOC International Coordination Group (ICG) for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (PTWS). Individual countries are then responsible for using this advice to distribute national tsunami warnings to their communities. Click here for further information on the PTWC.

International Tsunami Forums

Under the auspices of the IOC, the ICG/PTWS (formerly known as ICG for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific (ITSU)) was first convened in 1968 (IOC, 2009). This is an international cooperative effort involving many IOC Member States of the Pacific Region. The ICG/PTWS meets regularly to review progress and coordinate activities resulting in improvements of the service (IOC, 2009).

The Working Group on Tsunami Warning and Mitigation in the Southwest Pacific Ocean was formed at the ICG/PTWS-XXI meeting in Melbourne in early May 2006 with the aim of enhancing tsunami warning and mitigation in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The membership of the working group is composed of representatives from IOC Member States and other countries in the region (as members and observers). SOPAC provides secretariat support. The Working Group is currently chaired by a representative of New Zealand, with vice-chairs from Fiji and Samoa.

The Working Group has a number of Terms of Reference. The Tsunami Capacity Assessment reports are directly relevant to the following Terms of Reference:

  • To evaluate capabilities of countries in the Southwest Pacific Region for providing end-to-end tsunami warning and mitigation services;
  • To ascertain requirements from countries in the Southwest Pacific Region for the tsunami warning and mitigation services;
  • To facilitate capacity building and the sharing of tsunami information in the region;
  • To support the further development of the virtual centre of expertise in a multi-hazards context within SOPAC in line with the Regional Early Warning Strategy; and
  • To facilitate the inclusion of tsunami hazard and response information into curricula, and development and dissemination of education materials.

Click here for further information from the Unified Tsunami Website - Pacific Ocean.