Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
World Forum on the Contribution of Latin America to the Universe of the 21st Century hosts Disaster Symposium: the Benefits of an Interdisciplinary Approach to Disaster Reduction
The World Forum on
the Contribution of Latin America to the Universe of the 21st Century,
the name given to this years 10th Congress of the International
Federation of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (FIEALC), was held
in Moscow between 25 and 29 June 2001. For the first time in the history
of these Congresses, a symposium was held on the Vulnerability of Urban
Settlements to Natural Disasters.
The Symposium was
coordinated by architect Esteban Fernández and Dr. Margarita Gascón
of the Seismic Risk and Local Development Department of the Regional Center
for Science and Technology Research (CRICYT), based in Mendoza, Argentina.
Its inclusion as part of the Forum underscores the importance that the
issue of vulnerability to disasters has acquired in recent years, one
of the successful outcomes of the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction and its extension as the United Nations International Strategy
for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
by architects, geographers, historians, archeologists, and library specialists,
an interdisciplinary approach marked the Symposium, proving that is possible
to break through academic pigeonholes and propose alternative visions
from the point of view of many different scientific disciplines.
need the participation of different disciplines in disaster prevention
and mitigation projects, said engineer Francisco Ríos, director
of the Disaster Mitigation Research Centre (CISMID) of Perus National
Engineering University (UNI). The Moscow meeting took place as Peru was
recovering from the 23 June earthquake that shook Arequipa, Moquegua and
According to engineer
Ríos, it is essential to develop and implement disaster prevention
and mitigation projects in all fields of human activity. Although the
sudden release of seismic energy has as its most visible effect the fracture
and sometimes the collapse of the structural and non-structural elements
of a building, the resultant human and material losses are not the exclusive
responsibility of the architects and engineers who designed it.
CISMID and the Centre for Disaster Studies and Prevention, an NGO, gave an example of the benefits of interdisciplinary research and actions by describing a joint project for the retrofitting of housing in downtown Lima that involved teachers, sociologists, architects and engineers, among others. The project helped to restore and conserve a total of 15 centenarian buildings that were in danger of collapsing in the event of an earthquake.