Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Honduras Partnerships Against Poverty
Honduras: Challenges in Disaster Prevention
Honduras is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, as was proven by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch and the losses generated by Tropical Depression Michelle and many other recurring events. Risk management must therefore not only be promoted but expanded to include a formal prevention component.
The lessons such disasters and emergencies can teach us have unfortunately not yet been fully learned. Inordinate emphasis has been placed on response, while prevention measures have been limited and halting. A comprehensive effort aimed at integrating prevention, preparedness and response over the entire disaster mitigation cycle is overdue. A common, unified set of criteria is also necessary across the various government agencies and other stakeholders, so that they all can understand their roles and meet their responsibilities effectively in a climate of synergy.
Ever since Mitch, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has played a much more proactive role in promoting risk management projects that can have tangible results. Until now, however, UNDP cooperation was organized by sectors, focusing separately on such aspects as river basin management, natural resource management, sustainable rural development, interinstitutional support for the forestry sector, the strengthening of environmental and municipal management, decentralization, and support for COPECO and other disaster management agencies.
The goal now is to integrate all these and other efforts to reduce physical, social, institutional and environmental vulnerability through greater emphasis on prevention, as a means to ensure the sustainability of this Central American country.
From this standpoint, and within the framework of inter-agency cooperation, the UNDP has benefited from the technical assistance of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SCD) in the field of natural hazard reduction. Collaboration with the Swiss agency began towards the end of 1999 and remains active thanks to the participation of two experts hired by the agency to reinforce UNDPs strategies in the prevention field.
Based on a risk assessment process, the goal is to development a strategic vision for the short, medium and long term that can encourage the sustainable human development of the country by supporting activities aimed at vulnerability reduction and risk prevention. Specifically, UNDP plans to provide technical assistance in the promotion, enhancement and implementation of the National Plan for the Reduction of Natural or Technological Risk.
A culture of prevention can only emerge out of a cross-cutting approach that influences not only UNDPs development initiatives but those of others to secure true vulnerability reduction. Hence ever greater inter-agency cooperation is required.
The conceptual framework for this initiative can be summarized in the following flowchart: