Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
Formulating and implementating a strategic framework for vulnerability reduction and disaster preparedness in the Dominican Republic, 2004-2008
During the present administration (2004-2008), the Dominican Republic has formulated and is currently implementing a Strategic Framework for Vulnerability Reduction and Disaster Preparedness. National authorities, with the support of UNDP and a number of multilateral organizations such as the IDB, PAHO and ECHO, are carrying out this undertaking.
This initiative was developed after the serious impact of hurricane Jeanne in this country in September 2004. Shortly after the hurricane, it was requested that UNDP and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) carried out a socioeconomic impact assessment. In this manner, UNDP, with the support of a technical team, signed an agreement with the Dominican government in order to analyze why losses caused by the hurricane were so high, and develop work plans to overcome any institutional weaknesses identified. Thus, the response, which initially focused on the reconstruction process, was geared towards risk reduction, enabling this country to take the lessons learned into consideration.
As implied in the conclusions of the assessments conducted by ECLAC after hurricane George (1998), the floods in the Cibao region (2004) and hurricane Jeanne (2004), the Dominican Republic has well-founded reasons to work intensively in the field of risk reduction. Recently, this country was also affected by the tragedy that took place in Jimaní, near the border with Haiti, and an earthquake that also occurred in 2004.
In recent years, the Dominican Republic has also experienced increased social and environmental vulnerabilities, mainly associated with uncontrolled migration processes and economic marginalization. Risk is particularly generated in the eastern region of this country –a dynamic area in which tourism development projects are poorly planned in a nonintegrated manner, making them prone to disasters-, and in the border with Haiti –a region characterized by environmental deterioration, a high poverty level and disasters.
In order to reduce existing risks and prevent vulnerability from arising again in the future, the goal of the Strategic Framework is to promote the incorporation of risk reduction into national, sectoral, and territorial development planning processes, and foster a culture of disaster prevention.
The new possibilities that emerged from the Strategic Framework are encouraging for a number of reasons. For instance, a high-level coordinating committee has been created and currently includes the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, the National Planning Office (ONAPLAN), the National Authorizing Office for the European Development Fund (ONFED), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). On a second organizational level, there are nine State secretariats that coordinate actions with their respective sectoral committees in order to identify management projects with risk reduction components.
The political and financial sustainability of this Strategic Framework is sought through coordination between the multilateral organizations and national institutions that work jointly to establish courses of action, as well as through ongoing participation of national social, academic and municipal actors. This framework intends to become a tool that allows for coordination of the resources provided by international cooperating agencies. This is the case, for example, of funds received from the European Union and channeled through ONFED.
The most important task of the Strategic Framework is developing a culture of prevention, as well as creating institutional mechanisms for the appropriate use of information related to existing risks and hazards. This framework is also aimed at implementing land-use and urban development processes, and addressing cultural and planning aspects derived from such processes.
The formulation of the Strategic Framework featured a broad-based institutional participation. Along these lines, approximately 11 State secretariats, bodies that currently work on risk knowledge, planning and management; and nongovernmental organizations were some of the 70 organizations that participated in this consultation process.
This framework includes general and multiple development aspects related to risk knowledge, institutional development, land-use processes, and a culture of disaster prevention and preparedness. It also includes specific issues by sector, such as agriculture, the environment, water and sanitation, housing and urban development, road construction, tourism, energy and industry, and education.
During the first semester of 2005, actions taken will focus on strengthening sectoral committees and action plans, as well as fostering national resource management and cooperation with multilateral and bilateral organizations to address specific aspects of the Strategic Framework. During the first stage, emphasis will be laid on actions that, although require fewer resources, produce a higher impact such as the incorporation of disaster-related issues into the National Investment System, the design of training tools, and support for local management, especially in terms of urban development regulations.
UNDP has played a pivotal role in promoting and guiding the work done at the national level, and facilitating participation of bilateral and multilateral organizations in order to ensure sustained efforts, the adoption of clear criteria and approaches to disasters, and the national process required to achieve these goals. Special emphasis was laid on the importance that the Dominican Republic should give to both vulnerability reduction and disaster preparedness, but avoiding confusion between these two approaches, which would affect future structural processes for prevention.
Some of the lessons learned from the current process in the Dominican Republic are summarized as follows:
• It is important to carry out an in-depth analysis of sectoral planning and management processes, in order to identify concrete possibilities for risk management.
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