Meet Kenit: The 9-year old student promoting tsunami preparedness in India
January 9, 2023
My name is B. Kenit. I'm a student in the third-grade living in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, a state in southeast India. Four years ago, a tsunami evacuation drill was held in my school. It was part of a UNDP-Government of Japan ‘Tsunami Project’ aimed at strengthening school preparedness to tsunamis in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It was the first time I heard about a tsunami.
It was during the drill that I learned how a tsunami can destroy communities, even in my own hometown which is close to a vast coastline. I knew that when cyclones approached, the ocean swelled with high waves. The black waves that crash onto the land look totally different from the beach I visit with my parents every Sunday. I imagined a scene with a huge tsunami rushing into my home, into my school. A wave bigger than a cyclone engulfing my entire town.
I began to search for videos on YouTube to know more about a tsunami, such as the recent one in Palu, Indonesia in 2018. My parents told how terrible it was when the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred in 2004. I understood that a tsunami was not a story from a distant land experienced by people I did not know, but a risk that I, my family, and my friends can face right here in my own home.
I realized that if I did nothing, I would continue to be frightened by the threat of a tsunami. I stood up to protect my parents, school friends, neighbors...everyone I care about.B. Kenit, student
First, I connected with a few more students who were also trained under the Tsunami Project. Together we shared information with our community members through interactive stories. Second, I actively participated in school awareness programmes such as the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13th October, World Tsunami Awareness Day on 5th November, and some important campaigns like promotion of eco-friendly and pollution free Diwali and beach cleanup to gain more knowledge of disaster risks. Eventually, residents in my community started getting more interested in their own preparedness, I think because they were inspired by my enthusiasm!
Currently I'm conducting an awareness session in my community and for government officials on tsunami alerts, how to develop an evacuation plan and be prepared for a disaster situation. I’ve also reached out to two more schools, one which is for students below the poverty line and the other for students with disabilities. I'm training students from these schools on concepts like early warning, evacuation, search and rescue. I feel very strongly about how important it is to work for the most vulnerable groups in my community to enhance their preparedness. Truly, a disaster resilient society is one where everyone has access to opportunities to reduce disaster risk, regardless of disability or gender. I want to make sure that no one in my community is left out.
I want to spread awareness for disasters like tsunami and earthquake in more schools by organising sensitization programmes. Once we know the risk, we must move quickly to take action to address them, and no one should be left behind in disaster preparedness. Only we, ourselves, can protect our family, friends and community.
Learn more about UNDP/Japan Tsunami Project.
The “Tsunami Walk”: Stories from Japan
Yuichi Ono, a Japanese professor, walked for 40 days on the coastline of Japan with his friends to hear stories from people impacted by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake...
Li’Oa: Driving to Save Lives from Tsunami
On 15 January 2022, the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted. On the same day, a tsunami struck the coast of Tonga, and Li’oa, driver of the Emergency Manage...
What if early warning systems are used to trigger social protection measures in times of crisis?
This What If…? is the fourth publication of an exploratory series released throughout the week of this years’ International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction which ...
What if early warning systems are held back by the affordability of early action?
This What If…? is the third publication of an exploratory series released throughout the week of this years’ International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction which t...