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Tsunami early warning system in Indonesia

Sensor buoys for tsunami early warning system on their way to Indonesia

A tsunami early warning system for Indonesia is beginning to take shape: The research ship 'Sonne' is scheduled to start positioning the first GPS buoys off the Indonesian coast before the end of October. By late 2007 an entire system is to be in place to help protect the population in vulnerable areas of the country by providing real-time tsunami warnings.

Research Minister Edelgard Bulmahn and her Indonesian counterpart Kusmayanto Kadiman attended a ceremony in Hamburg on August 25 marking the first shipment of sensor buoys for the early warning system. Speaking in this context she said: "Our rapid response to this need will help bring hope and confidence to people in Indonesia."

By providing state-of-the-art early warning technology the German government is hoping to help avoid a repeat of the disaster that took place in Asia on December 26, 2004. At the same time it will be providing assistance to countries affected by the tsunami in the amount of 500 million euros over the next few years.

In the framework of a partnership program initiated by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder local authorities, companies, schools, and non-profit organizations in Germany are working together with district, town, and village administrations in the affected regions of Indonesia to rebuild damaged or destroyed infrastructures.

Government offered assistance immediately after tsunami disaster

The German government is implementing a pledge made in the context of the UN-sponsored International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to install a tsunami early warning system off the Indonesian coast for 45 million euros, working in close cooperation with UNESCO/IOC.

Germany has a georesearch center in Potsdam that is one of the world's leading institutes for early warning technology. Scientists there provided the earliest reports on the seismic event in Asia that led to last year's deadly tsunami. The Potsdam institute is part of an international monitoring system consisting of fifty seismological measurement stations in various parts of the world.

The Potsdam Georesearch Institute was established in its current form (a foundation under public law) on January 1, 1992, bringing together a wide range of geoscience fields (e.g. geodesy, geophysics, geology, mineralogy, geochemistry) in an interdisciplinary environment. The foundation is part of the Helmholtz Community of German Research Centers (Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren e.V.). Ninety percent of its budget is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The institute has a long history of registering earthquakes, dating back to 1889.

The system records seismic activity on land and under the oceans with land- and satellite-based sensing devices capable of making very precise measurements of the earth's surface. Stations on land and buoys at sea register maritime seismic events on the basis of concomitant changes in water pressure and wave movements. The system is to be expanded and integrated into a warning system for endangered regions so that the population can be made aware of an impending disaster within minutes.

Other partners involved in the project include the German Oceanic Research Consortium (KDM), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), and the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn.

The German government would like to expand the system to include the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, eventually forming a global early warning system that would help to protect people around the world from the effects of disasters caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes.

German assistance
After disaster relief and private donations from Germany amounting to 400 million euros, the German government allocated a further 500 million euros for medium and long-term reconstruction projects, for instance for the rebuilding of schools and the repair of water systems over the next three to five years.
On January 12, 2005 the Paris Club approved a debt moratorium for the countries affected by the tsunami disaster based on a proposal put forward by the German Chancellor.

Partnership initiative
In light of the devastation caused by the tsunami that occurred on December 26 last year Chancellor Schröder called upon local authorities, companies, schools, and non-profit organizations in Germany to form partnerships with districts, towns, and villages in the affected regions with a view to providing long-term support for reconstruction. In the framework of its partnership initiative the government has sought to coordinate the massive offers of assistance that came from private citizens in the wake of the tsunami. Experts involved in the initiative provide advice and support so that these offers of help can actually be implemented. Christina Rau, former UNICEF patron and wife of President Johannes Rau, is, in her capacity as the Chancellor's special representative, the official contact person for the Tsunami Aid Partnership Initiative. Thus far a total of 230 projects have been launched, based on 394 offers of assistance, some of which were bundled together. At the moment 170 local authorities, 85 schools, 5 universities, and 14 medical institutions in Germany are involved in the projects. The partnership initiative office at InWEnt - Capacity Building International in Bonn is responsible for project assessment and bundling, together with a staff group at the Foreign Office and the partnership offices at the relevant embassies. NGOs with experience in the affected regions are involved as partners to help implement projects on the ground.

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