International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

Global ISDR


2000 Public Information Campaign:
Disaster Reduction, Education, and Youth
Celebration of World Disaster Reduction Day


Carolyn McAskie with children from the International School of Ferney, France, at the official Ceremony of World Disaster reduction Day, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The annual UN World Campaign for Disaster Reduction, which is organized by the ISDR Secretariat, is designed to raise awareness around the globe and promote disaster prevention measures in communities at risk, as well as among all interested sectors the world over. This year’s campaign theme was Disaster Reduction, Education, and Youth, with special emphasis on the prevention of forest fires.
The objective of the Campaign is to continue to build a culture of prevention through educational channels so that today’s youth can play an active role in disaster reduction in the future.

Every Campaign concludes with World Disaster Reduction Day. It is celebrated on the second Wednesday of October, which this year fell on the 11th. The main festivities were held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Participants included the acting UN Coordinator for Emergency Relief, international experts, children from nearby schools, and representatives of the world media.

As part of the Campaign, educational material on the Campaign’s theme was distributed around the world. It included an information kit, t-shirts, a poster, and a booklet for children entitled What Do You Know About Fire Hazards?.
The information kit included the following articles about forest fires:

  1. Global Fire: A Message from the Global Fire Monitoring Center
  2. Wildfire Prevention in Australia
  3. Fire Management in Costa Rica: A Novel Experience
  4. Initial Steps towards Forest Fire Prevention in East Kalimantan/Indonesia: The Integrated Forest Fire Management Approach
  5. Integrated Forest Fire Management (IFFM) in Namibia
  6. The Santam/Cape Argus Ukuvuka: Operation Firestop Campaign, South Africa.


The UN Secretary Generalís message on World Disaster Reduction Day Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations 11, October 2000

“Our world is more vulnerable to hazards than ever before. The number of lives lost in disasters is rising steadily. The economic cost of disasters is rising even faster. Yet we, as a community of nations, remain relatively passive.

There is a growing awareness that what used to be called “natural” disasters are not so natural as they might appear. Indeed, the community of professionals dedicated to the reduction of disasters has now dropped the word “natural” altogether. That community’s message is clear: the main cause of rising losses is human activity.

At the most dramatic level, human activities are changing the natural balance of the earth, interfering as never before with the atmosphere, the oceans, the polar ice caps, the forest cover and the thousand natural pillars that make our world a livable home.

In a less visible but equally sinister way, we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. At no time in human history have so many of us lived in cities clustered around seismically active areas. Never before have so many people lived in flood plains or in areas prone to landslides, such as those which recently killed 30,000 people in Venezuela. Through numbers, through poverty, through ignorance and through lack of foresight and planning, we are asking for trouble.

At the same time, we are far from helpless. New technologies make it possible … for us to achieve economic progress without gross interference with the earth’s vital ecosystems. There are also technologies that can reduce risk in earthquake-prone areas. And planning tools and forecasting technology can help mitigate the devastation regularly wrought by floods.

But those tools and technologies are too seldom used to help the poorest and most vulnerable, who make up the silent majority of the world’s disaster victims. Unless we learn to take the tools and technologies already developed in universities and research centres in various parts of the world, and apply them in the world’s vulnerable communities, the prognosis will only get worse.

The international community has adopted an International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, which is a three-way alliance between the United Nations, regional groupings and civil society. This strategy, which is still in its infancy, offers some hope for a growing and coordinated global effort to roll back the tide of disasters.

But new efforts are also required. Two constituencies need urgently to be brought to the table: women and young people. If given a voice, they could give political weight to a cause that has hitherto been too technocratic. Many of the technocratic solutions are already available. As powerful forces for change, women and young people across the world can help those solutions reach the communities that need them most.”

Presentation of the 2000 Winner of the
US$50,000 United Nations Sasakawa Award
for Disaster Prevention

The Palais des Nations in Geneva was the setting on 11 October 2000 for the presentation of the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Prevention. The award was presented by Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary General of the United Nations Trade and Development Organization (UNCTAD), to Colombia’s Fund for the Reconstruction and Social Development of the Coffee Belt (Fondo para la Reconstrucción y el Desarrollo Social del Eje Cafetero, FOREC). The NGO was selected for this honor in recognition of its outstanding efforts at integrating disaster prevention into the reconstruction and rehabilitation programs for Colombia’s “Coffee Belt”, which was devastated by an earthquake in 1999. (see page 4)

Three Certificates of Distinction were awarded to a Vietnamese organization, the Hanoi Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control, to Ecuador’s Center for Scientific Research, and to Ethiopia’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission. Hungary’s National General Directorate for Disaster Management and Algeria’s General Civil Protection Directorate were given Certificates of Merit.

List of Winners of the United Nations Sasakawa
Award for Disaster Prevention

2000 Fund for the Reconstruction and Social Development of the Coffee Belt, Colombia
1999 Professor Mustafa Erdik (Turkey)
1998 H.E. Mr. Duo Ji Cai Rang (China)
Professor Wang Ang-Sheng (China)
Honorary Mention to CENAPRED (Mexico)
1997 Seismological Observatory of the Southwest (Colombia)
Dr. A. S. Arya (India)
1996 Dr. Ian Davis (United Kingdom)
1995 No winner
1994 National Emergency Commission (Costa Rica)
1993 Dr. Vit Kárnik (Czech Republic)
1992 Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (Ecuador)
1991 Mr. Franco Barberi (Italy)
1990 Mr. Julio Kuroiwa (Peru)
1989 Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (Ethiopia)
1988 ESCAP / Typhoon Committee (Philippines)
1987 Ratu Kamisese Mara (Fiji)