Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Socios en Acción
Workshop: Risk Reduction in Human
affect the poor most severely, both in rural and urban areasbut
demographic densities are of course greater in urban areas. In Central
America, half the population dwell in cities, and it is estimated that
between half and 60 percent live in poverty. However, the impact is hardest
on the most marginalized: women, children, the elderly, the disabled,
and those excluded for ethnic or cultural reasons. These are the social
groups most vulnerable to natural disasters.
The many efforts by
individual countries and the international community to lower vulnerability
have not yet effectively reached the local level: the municipal governments
and community organizations that are inevitably at the vanguard of response
and reconstruction in the event of a disaster.
With a view to assessing
the current situation in this field and supporting the establishment of
programmes to alleviate the causes of vulnerability, the UN Programme
for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat) organized a set of consultations titled
Local Management and Risk Reduction in Human Settlements in the Caribbean
Basin, which culminated in a regional meeting that was held in Havana,
Cuba, on 17-19 September 2002.
The event was organized
by UN-Habitats Risk and Disaster Management Programme (RDMP) in
collaboration with its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
(ROLAC). UN-Habitat is the United Nations body that specializes in housing,
human settlements and local governance. It has launched a campaign to
assist national and local governments in improving local vulnerability
reduction systems as an integral part of local development.
agreed on priority areas for risk and vulnerability reduction at the local
level, particularly in human settlements. They defined the key elements
of a regional cooperation programme in this field, and devised a follow-up
strategy for its implementation. The strategy focuses on the promotion
of cooperation among regional and international bodies, national and local
governments, and community organizations. After discovering that a veritable
host of regional bodies and initiatives are involved in disaster reduction,
participants became convinced of the urgent need to conjoin all these
efforts in order to exploit the enormous potential synergy between them.
Sponsors of the regional
consultations included the Cuban government, the inter-agency secretariat
of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), and the Assembly
of Ministers and Senior Authorities in the Housing and Urbanization Sector
of Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Ibero-American Housing
and Urbanization Forum (MINURVI).
Among the participants
were representatives of civil society, sectoral government bodies, civil
defence organizations, and municipal governments from Costa Rica, Cuba,
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and
Panama, as well as regional and international organizations dealing with
disasters, local governance, and foreign aid.
MINURVI, which held
its own meeting on 16-18 October in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic,
underscored the importance of the regional consultations and agreed to
join UN-Habitat and its Regional Offices efforts to design a proposal
for a regional cooperation programme on the local risk management of human
The production and implementation of this proposal is one of the priority tasks of the Regional Action Plan that was approved in Havana to confront the growing vulnerability of society to devastating hydrometeorological phenomena.