Governance, organisations, community and power within the interface of the tsunami early warning system: a comparison of Indonesia and Sri Lanka

Maheshika Sakalasuriya, Richard Haigh, Siri Hettige, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Senaka Basnayake, Harkunti P Rahayu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The interface mechanism in a tsunami early warning system (TEWS) occurs at the point between where regional tsunami information is received at the country level and before any warning or evacuation orders are disseminated to the public. Three crucial actions take place during the interface: issuing the warning; disseminating the warning; and, ordering an evacuation. Using two case studies in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, a study was undertaken to understand the nature of the interface mechanism and the social, cultural and political dynamics of its operationalisation. In this paper, a comparative analysis of the two case studies is presented, focusing on the role of governance, institutions and people in this interface. The nature of governance, hierarchies and structures influence the interface mechanism and the associated decision-making mechanisms. The institutions who act as key stakeholders are also shaped by the governance structures and hierarchies within it. The officers working in the institutions are affected by the political influences within the governance system, and the efficiency of the institutions are determined by the nature of their human resources. The actions of the officers and their decisions determine the safety of people who rely on the governance system in the event of a tsunami. The communities are also affected by the overall governance structure, the political influences that exist within the governance structure, and the nature of the institution. The complex relationships between governance, institutions and officers that exist in the two countries affect the communities in different ways. Yet, the manner in which the overall operation of TEWS is formed by these relationships in two countries lead to a common thread of decisions and actions when operationalising the interface. The results are presented in a framework that illustrates the complex relationships between governance, institutions, officers and communities. The framework provides a basis for future research on how the interface of TEWS can be operationalised to effectively protect communities at risk from tsunami.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Sep 2020

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