International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Highlights
2006 - 2005 - 2004
2006
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January - 2006

The ISDR secretariat would like to wish all our colleagues and partners a prosperous New
Year, in which we will hopefully see less damaging disasters and more resilient communities. This month’s issue of the ISDR Highlights focuses on some of the development in the regions. Please feel free to contact us with any interesting developments you would like us to share with others for our next issue of Highlights.

Follow-up to Hyogo Framework for Action: Focal points in countries
In a couple of days, we will celebrate the first Anniversary of the Hyogo Framework for Action. We will mark this first year Anniversary at the Disaster Prevention Symposium that will take place in Kobe, Japan, on January 18, 2006.

For more information, please visit: www.hyogo.uncrd.or.jp/activity/events.htm
For the occasion, we have prepared a six-page brochure on the Hyogo Framework that explains the main goals of the HF, and a 5-minute video called ” Everybody ‘s business “ that illustrates what the HF means for people. These products will soon be available on our website.

The ISDR secretariat would like to remind Governments of their commitments to put in place appropriate national coordination mechanisms in the follow-up of the Hyogo Framework and to communicate this information to the ISDR secretariat. We are very interested in knowing country-specific initiatives and activities related to the Hyogo Framework.
See our website: www.unisdr.org/hf

First African Union Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, 5-7 December, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The first African Union Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was organized in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, from 5-7 December 2005 by the African Union and the ISDR Africa office. Over 150 participants from 40 countries and UN agencies attended the Conference that aimed at promoting political awareness on disaster risk reduction in Africa. The conference concluded with the adoption of a Programme of Action for the implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. This strategy aims to increase political commitment, improve identification and assessment of disaster risks and boost public awareness about disaster risk reduction. It also works to improve governance of disaster risk reduction institutions and integrate disaster reduction in emergency response management. The African Union will bring the issue of disaster risk reduction to the next Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled on 17-18 January 2006 in Sudan.

Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami
Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS), Hyderabad, India, 14 – 16 December 2005
The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) organized a meeting in Hyderabad to produce a concrete plan of the warning system elements that are now in place and to identify what else remains to be accomplished with a timeline for implementation. The basic warning system technical elements will be in place by June 2006. The summary report of the IOC-led assessment missions to 16 countries was released at the meeting and provides a good basis for developing more detailed specific interventions. The need for activities on preparedness, mitigation and response is recognized by the ICG and some countries have taken steps with public awareness efforts, signage, and evacuation drills. However more efforts and representation in the ICG process are needed from the relevant groups in disaster management and development. For this reason, the ISDR secretariat will lead a new working group on mitigation, preparedness and response over the next 5-6 months in order realign efforts for the next ICG in Bali in June 2006.
See more at: www.unisdr.org/ppew/tsunami/ppew-tsunami.htm

Third early warning conference
The preparations for EWC III are now focusing on both the substantive content of the conference and the logistical arrangements. The project review process is nearing completion; of about 130 proposals, some 30 projects have been shortlisted to be reviewed for the final selection of twelve projects that will be presented in the plenary. Similarly, of the 160 abstracts submitted for the Symposium, some 35 are being selected for oral presentation as part of the scientific and technical discussions. Arrangements are now being made for all organizational matters, from floor plan to poster sessions to financial assistance for participants. Registration will be formally closed on 31 January, but may be extended for some time. A Second Announcement will be issued at the end of January, with a more detailed programme for the conference.
For more information see: www.ewc3.org/

Commemmoration of the 1st anniversary of the Tsunami, 26 December 2005
Commemorations for the first year anniversary of the 26 December 2004 tsunami were organized in most tsunami-affected countries. Indonesia carried out a simulation exercise of national real-time early warning capacities and an evaluation of the level of local community preparedness following a year of run-up preparations which include development of maps, evacuation guidelines and paths using satellite imageries. A training for the local communities, a”training for Trainers” on hazards and a Workshop on ICT in Tsunami Early Warning System (TEWS) were also carried out on the occasion. Additional activities to commemorate the first year anniversary of the tsunami include press conferences, on-air radio broadcasts, the launch of a book on TEWS activities and a national exhibition at the National Museum in Jakarta.

In Malaysia, the Deputy Prime Minister, in his capacity of Chairman of National Disaster Relief Committee, officially proclaimed 26 December as "National Disaster Awareness Day". A dinner was organized by the National Security Division in Kuala Lumpur with representatives from government agencies, NGOs and private companies who had contributed to responding to disasters at the domestic and international level. Over 930 government officials, NGOs and individual citizens were awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the government. Force of Nature, an NGO established by Malaysian Government to generate programs on Disaster Awareness among Malaysians, launched a one-week exhibition on disaster management in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.

In Thailand, the Royal Thai Government proclaimed 26 December as the ‘National Disaster Prevention Day’ and called on relevant national actors to produce and conduct a wide range of disaster reduction related activities every year. The Royal Thai Government also organized a major ceremony entitled ‘One Year in Memory of Tsunami’, to commemorate the first anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The ceremony took place in the tsunami-affected areas of Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi and Trang and included a Tsunami Victims Memorial Service, a Tsunami Memorial Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony at Haad Lek Beach, Khao Lak-Lam Roo National Park and an Interfaith Memorial Services in Bang Niang Beach, Phang-nga. The relatives of the tsunami victims, the injured, and Thai volunteers attended the events. Tilly Smith, the young British girl who saved lives in Southern Thailand by prompting the evacuation of the beach at the time of the tsunami, was also invited at the ceremony, together with Patiwat, a young tsunami survivor from Indonesia to read poems in commemoration of those killed at the Thai resort of Phangnga. Praised as “Angel of the Beach”, Tilly urged children to learn more about natural disasters.

A new website for the Disaster Tracking Recovery Assistance Centre (D-TRAC)
In conjunction with the first year anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the Disaster Tracking Recovery Assistance Center (D-TRAC) of Thailand developed a website providing details on the status of and progress made in tsunami relief activities. The site can be accessed at www.d-trac.org. It includes detailed reports from 27 aid organizations helping in the relief phase as well as maps, village names and a list of requests for assistance from a variety of aid organizations involved in the Tsunami recovery. D-TRAC is an overall initiative launched in partnership with the Office of Representative Krit SriFa of the Royal Thai Parliament and the District Office of Khuraburi. D-TRAC aims at coordinating and harmonizing relief action through the establishment of an effective system for the collection, organization and easy access to relevant information and data on overall tsunami relief related activities in the province. Local and international aid agencies as well as the Provincial Representative requested the expansion of the project to other natural hazards as well as throughout the entire province. Detailed information can be obtained at saundra.s@d-trac.org

ECHO Regional Consultative Meeting, 2 December 2005, Bangkok, Thailand
The ECHO Regional Consultative Meeting was organized by DIPECHO South East Asia with the participation of the Government of Thailand, as the culmination of several national consultations throughout Asia (including Philippines, Cambodia, Timor among others). The purpose of this strategic exercise was to ensure a participatory dialogue from relevant regional actors in disaster management to assist DIPECHO identify its strategic funding priorities for the 2006/2007 financial cycle at the regional level. Many UN organizations were represented, including OCHA, UNDP, ISDR, WFP, UNESCAP as well as various NGOs (IFRC, MRC, Oxfam), IGOS (ADPC) and donor organizations. A strong emphasis was placed on the community and people-centered approach of DRR strategies, which was recognized as a priority for DIPECHO. Participants emphasized the benefits of having the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) as the overarching framework to develop disaster risk reduction initiatives. Positive discussions also took place with regard to the need to harmonize existing and planned disaster risk reduction initiatives and programmes at the national and regional levels. A way to achieve this would be the development of strategic national action plans, pooling resources, whch was proposed by different partners as a possible priority action for DIPECHO.

ASEAN activities for disaster reduction
The ASEAN Ministers responsible for disaster management in December 2004 decided to celebrate the annual ASEAN Day for Disaster Management (ADDM) in conjunction with the International Day for Disaster Reduction commencing in 2005. The 2005 ADDM was celebrated on 12 October 2005. ASEAN Member Countries organized a series of promotional activites at the national level. The Secretary-General of ASEAN issued a message on the occasion of the Day which was widely broadcasted in the region.

ASEAN mounted the first Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise, labelled ARDEX-05 on 19 September 2005 in Selangor, Malaysia. The exercise was the first of its kind to involve a number of ASEAN countries in mobilizing personnel and light to medium equipment across borders.

Recognizing the threat of pandemic hazards, such as the avian influenza, the ASEAN-UN Seminar on Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Capacity (26-27 October 2005, Bandung, Indonesia) agreed to establish as of November 2005 an ASEAN Inter-Sectoral Forum for Information Sharing on Pandemic Hazards through Video-Conferencing, involving the ASEAN bodies dealing with disaster management, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Social Welfare and Development, Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the ASEAN Member Countries, as well as representatives from World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
For more information see: www.aseansec.org/

A new national platform in Panama
A multi-stakeholder national platform for disaster reduction was launched in Panama on 16 December 2005. This is the first new post-Kobe national platform in Latin America and conforms to a number of principles of the Hyogo Framework. The platform has a solid multi-sectorial structure with the participation of government representatives, civil society and international organizations.
For more information contact: hsanahuja@eird.org

Country profiles
The ISDR’s Regional unit for Latin America and the Caribbean produced the first version of an internet and CD-based set of country profiles for Latin America and the Caribbean on disaster risk reduction issues. It contains contact information, analysis, links and related bibliography from each country. The set of country profiles is also available on CD. See http://www.eird.org/perfiles-paises/index.htm for more information.

Virtual library
The Regional Disaster Information Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID), coordinated by the ISDR secretariat and PAHO, now boasts a virtual disaster library of over 7,440 electronic disaster related documents on line at www.crid.or.cr/crid/esp/busqueda_documentos_electronicos.html. New training and audiovisual materials have become available on www.crid.or.cr
In the last years, CRID has grown to become an essential resource and training center that provides a myriad of information services and products to the disaster reduction community.



ISDR Highlights is a monthly email update on current news in disaster reduction published by the Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR).
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