Students from Samoa were among delegates from 30 countries invited to participate in the High School Students Summit on World Tsunami Awareness Day from 22 to 29 November 2016 in Japan.
The gathering was organised by the government of Japan to commemorate the establishment of World Tsunami Awareness Day on 5 November at the UN General Assembly.
Students from 30 countries were invited to participate in the Summit as Youth Ambassadors for World Tsunami Awareness Day. The purpose of the programme was to enhance awareness of potential future leaders who will be responsible for mitigating the effects of earthquakes and tsunamis, and building national resilience.
The Embassy of Japan in Apia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade coordinated Samoa’s participation at the Summit.
The students were selected from a High School directly affected by the 2009 earthquake and tsunami, given the focus of the Summit.
With the assistance of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, the Principal of Aleipata College, Saniie Matamu, nominated the following: Alisa Itamua (Year 13), Terimellisa Falefatu (Year 13), Malavai Lapaalii (Year 13), Faauu Fora Maoama (Year 12), Serafina Alataua (Year 12) and Fatai Fatai (Year 12). Ms Ida-Tifitifi Fuimaono of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade led the group of Youth Ambassadors as Supervisor.
As part of the preparation for the Summit, M.F.A.T made arrangements for the students to meet with representatives from the National Disaster Management Office (D.M.O) to provide a briefing about what Samoa is currently doing with regards to disaster risk reduction and overall preparedness.
The Summit was held over two days in Kuroshio-town, Kochi Prefecture - a city projected to be at risk by a tsunami likely to reach 34.4 meters if an earthquake hits the region.
The town has launched a variety of initiatives such as infrastructure development, education regarding disaster risk reduction in order to mitigate the risks involved.
The Summit consisted of presentations, workshops and group discussions around ways in which high school students can raise awareness about Tsunamis and disaster risk reduction.
Samoa’s youth Ambassadors delivered a presentation on the theme of Preparedness entitled, “Preparing for Natural Disasters through our Tsunami Experience” as well as an Action Plan for the implementation of their response strategies.
The presentation was also an opportunity for some students to provide real life experiences, which touched the hearts of the audience from the 30 countries represented. The Summit outcome was in the form of the Kuroshio Declaration to encourage the students to commit to action as World Tsunami Awareness Day Youth Ambassadors.
The Youth Ambassadors of Samoa visited various sites damaged by the Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 which included the Higashimatsushima Omagari Temporary Housing and Okawa Primary School where over 80 students and staff died during the disaster.
Each country planted a tree during a special tree planting ceremony to commemorate their participation in the Summit and the action they will take to continue to raise awareness and implement Disaster risk reduction plans as high school students.
The Samoan group performed the fa’ataupati and taualuga as the finale for the farewell reception in Tokyo. The Ambassador of Samoa to Japan, Fa’alavaau Perina Sila-Tualaulelei and Counsellor, attended the farewell reception and met with the students.
The government of Samoa extends its sincere appreciation to the government of Japan, through Ambassador Tuimaugaoali’i Kazumasa Shibuta and the Embassy of Japan for the invitation and facilitating arrangements for Samoa’s participation in the Summit.