Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Information management, a key tool for disaster prevention and mitigation
management professionals working in the emergency prevention field collect,
process, and disseminate information so that it can reach disaster management
professionals, as well as those affected by adverse natural or man-made
phenomena, promptly and equitably. Such specialized work calls for very
specific training, since it requires common methodologies, elaborate technical
skills, and the ability to keep local information centers up to date with
the latest advances in both information management and disaster reduction.
Given this critical
need, international and regional agencies have been organizing training
activities for professionals working for institutional, academic and government
disaster information centers, so that they can respond effectively to
the growing demand for information on disaster prevention and response.
A workshop on The
Management of Disaster Information Units was held on 20-24 May at the
PAHO/WHO offices in La Paz, Bolivia, and reflected this years Annual
Disaster Reduction Campaign theme: disaster prevention in mountain regions.
Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Regional Disaster Information
Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID), and PAHO/WHOs
Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Program (PED) office in Ecuador
held the workshop, which brought together 30 disaster information management
professionals and technicians from the Andean region.
Andean countriesBolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuelaare
frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides,
hurricanes, drought and forest fires, not to mention the technological
hazards common to industrializing nations. Extensive poverty aggravates
the vulnerability of their inhabitants.
A flood in La Paz
on 14 February that killed 68 people, the eruption of Pichincha and Tugurahua
volcanoes in Ecuador, and the 6.9-degree earthquake of June 2001 that
affected 213,000 people in Peruthese are just a few of the regions
most recent disasters, but they underscore the urgent need to inform officials
and the population of the measures needed before, during, and after a
The contents of
The workshop focused on five issues:
and management of disaster information units.
The objective of
covering such issues was not merely to provide stand-alone training to
disaster information management professionals and workers, but above all
to ensure that they can exchange information throughout the region by
employing the same processing and analysis methodologies as well as the
same terminology for information indexing. The ultimate goal is to contribute
to the establishment of a regional network of disaster information units
that can better meet the needs of the many decision-makers and ordinary
citizens who must have reliable and timely access to information on disaster
prevention and mitigation.
Emphasis was also
placed on the need to provide prompt and equitable services, and on the
best possible use of both traditional and high-tech resources to exchange
and disseminate disaster reduction information. Needless to say, the Internet
featured prominently as a key tool to facilitate access to key information
when planning prevention and preparedness measures or responding to an