Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
NETWORKING in the Region- a review
The Regional Disaster Information Center (CRID) and incipient Regional Disaster Information Network is a result of the promotional work of IDNDR. CRID was built upon the existing experiences of the Regional Disaster Documentation Center (founded by PAHO in 1990 and supported by IDNDR since 1994) and the IDNDR regional activities. Nine regional and bilateral organizations met in San José during 11-12 of February -97, convened by IDNDR, to discuss how this Synergy and joint approach to improve the access of disaster related information could materialize.
This initiative brings together many organizations that has worked separately, to a common framework; as the UN IDNDR Secretariat, PAHO/WHO, the International Federation of Red Cross, Medicins sans Frontieres, CEPREDENAC and others. It means that valuable contacts and working relations have been established among both the persons and organizations involved that may make a difference in the future. LA RED de Estudios Sociales in Peru, the Main Library of the University of West Indies in the Caribbean Jamaica, CLAMED in Cuba, CENAPRED in Mexico are partners to the establishment of a regional disaster information network. ECHO is currently supporting some projects in this concern for Central America and the Caribbean. In 1999 a Foundation was established FundaCRID- to support the activities.
For more information, visit:
Caribbean Disaster Information Network
The Main Library at of the University of West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, has launched a Caribbean Disaster Information Network (CARDIN), based on the CRID model. The objective is to develop a sustainable disaster information system in the region, with compatible methodologies and networks to increase the collection, processing, services and access to the users in the region.
IDNDR participated, through the Regional Disaster Information Centre (CRID), along with CDERA, PAHO and ECHO, in the Technical and Advisory Committees for the set-up of the Caribbean Disaster Information Network, 27-28 April 99, at the University of West Indies, Jamaica. The goal is to achieve a compatible disaster information system for the region, for recollection, indexing and dissemination of existing and future technical information on disasters and disaster reduction. This first phase of the project is funded by ECHO (DIPECHO).
For more information: University of the West
Indies, Main Library,
Here follows some other important mechanisms for information exchange and promotion of the disaster reduction concept, driven by partners in the Decade:
Some other important networking mechanisms that functions under the framework of IDNDR, driven by IDNDR partners
The Pan American Health Organization started an Emergency Preparedness Program in 1976. Since the proclamation of IDNDR this program has taken an active and leading part to promote the goals and targets of IDNDR in the health sector, with Foreign Ministries, parliamentarians and civil defense in the region. It includes match funding and logistic support for activities of the IDNDR regional unit of the IDNDR Secretariat. The scope of the Program also changed towards disaster mitigation and reduction in the health sector, more than "only" in disaster preparedness and response, which are still important components. It includes promotion of use of Internet as an important tool to pursue networking among persons and countries. A network of disaster focal points has been promoted and nurtured by PAHO for the whole region, within the national Ministries of Health, Social Security institutes and Water supply institutes. Every office of PAHO has a disaster focal point, as well, that support these national entities. This PAHO network has always played an active role to promote public awareness during the IDNDR Campaigns and day at the country level.
For more information, visit: www.paho.org/
Civil Protection/Emergency Management Organizations:
Civil Defense or similar organizations in each country coordinate most of the IDNDR National Committees of the Region. Through IDNDR an indirect networking between many of these organization has started, due to the exchange of information between these organizations that has been possible by global or regional conferences, as in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and in Yokohama in 1994, meetings convened by PAHO, OAS or LA RED and others under the umbrella of IDNDR. Some examples may be mentioned: CEPREDENAC and CENAPRED, Mexico has an agreement for cooperation-Mexico and Guatemala have border agreements to study volcanoes and to develop risk maps and emergency plans. Ecuador and Colombia has the same, so has Peru and Chile. Some of these agreements have received financial support from PAHO and UN-DHA, but are basically sponsored by the affected countries.
An Ibero American Civil Protection Association was founded in 1997, after an initiative of Chile and Spain.
Other important Networks for disaster reduction set up as a response to the declaration of the Decade in the region are:
LA RED/The Network for Social Studies in Disaster Prevention in Latin America. This Network of social scientists, centers, NGOs, and national institutions was created in a meeting in Costa Rica by individuals and institutions from the region in 1992. Comparative studies on social impact and consequences of disasters, a series of important books and publications, development of training material for local level, development of a methodology to collect and systematize information on disaster impact of any scale (DesInventar) and the convening of regional meetings and dialogues for disaster reduction are some of the activities undertaken by LA RED. A major social research and action project on the effects of El Niño is underway.
For more information: www.itdg.org.pe/lared
GEMITIS, is a French IDNDR initiative, to link cities in Central America and the Caribbean in a network to exchange disaster management information, experiences and expertise. The first meeting was held in Manizales, Colombia by, the end of 1996, and the second in Havanna, Cuba, in 1998.
For more information: French IDNDR
Committee, Philippe Masure
ICAROS (Idndr CAribbean Rover Seminar) is another initiative of the French IDNDR Committee, that was launched together with Gemitis during the Yokohama World Conference for Disaster Reduction in 1994. These seminars have taken place in three occasions since then (in Dominica, Guadeloupe and Puerto la Cruz-Venezuela) and has served as a platform to meet among some policymakers, disaster managers, scientists and regional/international organizations. The last during this meeting it was suggested that the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) continued with the convening role established through the series of ICAROS seminars - as a platform to meet in the Caribbean region and deal with disaster reduction issues.
In 1999 the ACS summit approved an action plan that includes a cooperation frame among the countries of the Caribbean basin to enhance disaster reduction activites.
For more information: ACS, Trinidad,
FEMID is a project that was born from the German IDNDR Committee for Central America to Strengthen Local Capacities for Disaster Mitigation and carried out by CEPREDENAC. The project has carried out a series of pilot projects in all countries of Central America since 1997, including a recently established community early warning network for floods. FEMID is slowly building up a network of local communities in Central America with experience in disaster mitigation practices and methods.
For more information: www.sinfo.net/cepredenac
Central American Community Network for Risk Management
One of the key goals of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) is empowering communities so that they can contribute to their own safety through sensible, up-to-date disaster reduction measures.
Central Americas efforts in this field have been instrumental in developing policies, influencing the decision-making process, promoting strategic planning, and defining appropriate land use. However, communities have not always been as active as one might wish in this process, not even those most vulnerable to natural or man-made hazards.
When disasters have struck, politicians have interacted with specific communities for maximum media effect, rather than involving them in the decision-making effort that must accompany reconstruction. A few token projects have had no influence on policy, and yet have often been required to fulfill the mission of national or local authorities, without the budget to carry out such tasks.
However, many communities in Central America have developed their own spontaneous structures, methodologies and processes. Their motivation was compelling: they were interested in saving lives and property.
Hurricane Mitchs apocalyptic passage through the region made many of Central Americas communities more aware of their vulnerability. They realized that the national government was incapable of responding to a disaster on such scale. Communities could not count on outside help. But they could count on each other, at least if prevention was the issue. They could benefit mutually from their experiences and success stories.
Community organization such as the Nicaraguan Community Movement (MCN), El Salvadors Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology, Self-Management and the Environment (FUDECIT-ITAMA), the Honduran Bloque Coordinador de Patronatos, BLOCOOPAH, the "Consejo Directo de Areas Revertidas" of Panama, all agreed to cooperate in this regard. They managed to convene a group of community leaders from throughout the region in order to discuss vulnerability and the harsh impact of Hurricane Mitch. A Central American Community Network for Risk Management was one of the.
Their first meeting, which focused on "Disasters, Civil Society and Development", took place in December 1998 in El Salvador. The second meeting took place in Nicaragua on 8 and 9 May 1999 with support of IDNDR, CERCA-CDP/CNUAH and CEPREDENAC. It was then that the community network was set up, in order to facilitate solidarity and the exchange of experiences and success stories among participating communities. A Plan of Action was drawn up. Its chief working areas were the following: