Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
The Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR)
The Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR) is the main forum of the OAS and the Inter-American System for the analysis of policies and strategies aimed at natural disaster reduction in the context of the sustainable development of member states. The OAS General Assembly established the IACNDR (AG/RES. XXIX-O-99) based on the need to strengthen the role of the OAS in natural disaster reduction and emergency preparedness.
The IACNDR is chaired by the Secretary General of the OAS and comprises:
The purpose of the IACNDR is to propose policies and strategies that can guide member states decisions on natural disaster reduction. Specifically, these proposals must contribute to reducing natural disasters through the implementation of sustainable development mechanisms that reduce the countries vulnerability, and through the design of emergency preparedness and response coordination and cooperation tools, so that international and national assistance can be more effective and prompt.
The first Working Group advises the IACNDR on the development and application of vulnerability assessment mechanisms and the production of reliable vulnerability indicators. The second Working Group researches and recommends alternative financial support methods for reducing vulnerability to natural disasters. The third Working Group evaluates and proposes mechanisms for improving international and national coordination in the event of an emergency.
The IACNDR, in supporting the OAS Permanent Council, can:
As noted by OAS Secretary General César Gaviria during the first Committee meeting, the IACNDR is meant to be a space for dialogue, reflection, and the proposal of policies and strategies to guide the decisions of member states on natural disaster reduction, prevention, and preparedness. Moreover, the participation of the IACNDR member organizations should increase the capacity to identify, assess, and reduce the vulnerability of the peoples and economic and social infrastructure of the Americas.
The Vulnerability Assessment and Indexing (VAI) Working Group, headed by the OAS, is one of three Working Groups of the Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR). The objective of VAI is to draft recommendations on the structure, function and application of vulnerability assessment mechanisms and indicators for natural disasters. These recommendations are submitted to the Permanent Council of the OAS for consideration, and to assist member States in the implementation of the mandates adopted. The recommendations should propose policies and strategies for discussion and adoption by governments or institutions that in some way generate and use vulnerability assessment and indicators.
Vulnerability assessments and indicators are necessary for reducing the impact of natural disasters, both in terms of development actions and emergency preparedness. They are also needed to understand risk as the basis upon which to make investment decisions. The risk arising from the impact of natural disasters may be financial, economic and physical. Vulnerability assessment in the hemisphere has been developed, in theory and practice, to discuss natural hazard vulnerability reduction, taking account of socioeconomic aspects and geographical location. In each case, it is possible to perform at least a preliminary assessment of vulnerability levels and begin to analyze the costs and benefits in financial, economic and physical terms, particularly in relation to reducing threats to life.
Governments are currently considering ways to approach risk reduction in natural disasters as they observe, among other things, increasing human casualties and material losses, and the greater frequency of natural disasters. Another factor is the recognition that low levels of risk and losses due to natural disasters can be turned into a market instrument to attract foreign investment. Moreover, in the near future the development policies of governments will be assessed on the basis of whether they internalize or externalize vulnerability to natural hazards.
Thus, the importance of the task of the Working Group on Vulnerability Assessment and Indexing rests on the following:
The VAI is directly accountable to the hemispheric mechanism created by Member States through the IACNDR, as follows:
Actions related to vulnerability assessment and indexing should identify priority populations and components of economic and social infrastructure for the Member States in their national, international and hemispheric contexts. In its first report, the VAI proposed a series of short, medium, and long term actions. Among the short-term actions, the Working Group proposed the following:
Among medium-term actions, the VAI recommended:
The long-term recommendation is that the OAS General Assembly call on each sector to create and implement mechanisms through which a certain percentage of investment funds are used to upgrade existing infrastructure in line with the priorities established by vulnerability assessment and indexing processes. Part of these funds should also be set aside for new infrastructure projects that contemplate acceptable levels of risk.
and indexing in response to threats posed by natural disasters is an evolving
process that plays an important role in disaster preparedness and response,
and in the financing of disaster reduction initiatives.
Natural Disaster Preparedness And Response Working Group Inter-American Committee For Natural Disaster Reduction
During the first meeting of the Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR), the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) established three Working Groups. He invited the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) to chair the Natural Disaster Preparedness and Response Working Group (PRWG).
The first meeting of the Working Group was held under the coordination of PAHO with the active participation of international and Inter-American multilateral agencies, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. It was determined that the objectives of the Working Group would be the following:
The basis for the Working Groups deliberations was Resolution No. 1682 of the OAS General Assembly, of 7 June 1999, about the mechanisms of the OAS for natural disaster reduction. It was decided that training, guidance, and education are the means required to enable the Inter-American System to have a coordinated response to catastrophic events. It is a well-known fact that the OAS System is capable of reaching a great variety of stakeholders and sectors, and the Working Group believes that this capacity should be used to promote disaster prevention, mitigation, and response.
Participants also suggested that the OAS existing information system be improved, particularly to improve its response when a disaster take place. In order to achieve this, they suggested that some form of liaison mechanism be established for the swift exchange of information with other networks in the region, such as the UN Systems ReliefWeb. One of the steps forward so far was the greater rapprochement between the OAS and the United Nations System since the OAS was invited to participate in the first meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), at the end of April 2000. There, the role and mandate of the IACNDR were praised as the only regional forum of its kind. The agencies of the Inter-American System will join the four Working Groups that have been created by the Task Force to deal with early warning systems, risk assessment and vulnerability indicators, the El Niño phenomenon and climate changes, and science, telecommunications and technology.
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