Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
and recommendations of the Third International Forum of Local Governments Against
The Third International Forum of Local Govern-ments Against Disasters and Emergencies was held in Viņa del Mar, Chile, from 30 November to 3 Decem-ber 1998, with the partici-pation of 200 mainly municipal officials from 20 countries. They exchan-ged experiences about the social and developmental dimensions of natural disasters and the need for planning and new techno-logies to reduce risk.
The meeting was sponsored by an organization called Local Authorities and Cities against Disasters and Emergencies (LACDE). According to participants, the forums objectives coincided fully with those of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).
Attendees at two workshops one on the social dimension of disasters and another on sustainable development concluded that local authorities, grassroots groups and vulnerable populations should all work together to achieve effective risk management and disaster reduction. Such a goal will only be reached, they agreed, if an ongoing, participatory community education effort is in place to identify existing hazards, needs, and resources. The benefits of such an approach were exemplified by the papers presented on Lisbon, Portugal; Recife, Brazil; and several communities in Chile and Costa Rica.
Participants at the workshops agreed that risk and disaster management must be a seamless and ongoing effort from the local to the national level, which must receive permanent input from the scientific and technical community. They also noted that the media must provide timely and accurate information for the public to be aware of natural and man-made hazards and the prevention measures they themselves can adopt.
At the New Technologies for Local Management Workshop and the Disasters and Environment Workshop, participants noted the lack of systematic, comparable data on disasters. They also regretted that the term "disaster" is only used for major catastrophes, pointing out that this renders invisible the many smaller-scale emergencies and disasters that take place every year in developing countries.
Reinforcing and retrofitting existing structures is only part of the story, participants said. Civil society must be brought into the picture, so that grassroots groups and ordinary citizens can help to define goals concerning disaster mitigation. Hazards and vulnerability must be taken into account in the decision-making process, particularly regarding land management and environmental security.
The meeting agreed that some institutional setup must take the place of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) Secretariat at the end of the decade, in order to continue promoting risk reduction and integrated disaster management in the 21st Century.