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

EIRD Global


2003 World Disaster Reduction Campaign Celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction

Like every year, the International Day for Disaster Reduction was celebrated during the second Wednesday of October throughout the world. This year, the ISDR also launched the 2003 World Campaign for Disaster Reduction entitled “Living with Risk: Turning the Tide of Disasters towards Sustainable Development”, which is also related to the International Year of Fresh Water. The ISDR Secretariat produced and distributed an information kit and brochure intended for the media and a number of important partners involved in the main theme of the campaign. Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean organized different activities at local and national levels to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, celebrated on October 8, 2003.

Information on the national and local activities can be found on the following pages.

El Salvador
On October 8-10, SNET organized a number of activities to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. The first activity included a fair in which the work accomplished by different NGOs, cooperating bodies and other institutions, in terms of risk reduction, was explained to the public at large. In a similar manner, the forum entitled “Risk Management: A Daily Practice” was held, gathering representatives of institutions responsible for planning processes, programs and projects related to risk management. Finally the forum entitled “Sharing the Theory and Practice of Risk Management” was coordinated by the Initiative for Risk Reduction in El Salvador, which is made up of a number of national institutions.

SINAPRED organized various activities, involving different sectors of society. For instance, “Tremors of the Heart” (radio drama series) –an initiative developed by the ISDR, PAHO,UNDP and CEPREDENAC, was launched. In addition, SINAPRED provided the MIFAMILIA organization with the Manual of Procedures for Managing Humanitarian Supplies. An agreement was also signed between the Government of Nicaragua and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in order to implement a program on natural disaster prevention.

Finally, a campaign aimed at raising awareness was launched in Tipitapa, in the context of the project entitled “Disaster Prevention”, implemented by Handicap International. The project also sponsored the “Queen of Water” pageant, held among high school students.



The International Day for Disaster Reduction was celebrated on October 8. The National Institute for Civil Defense organized a number of activities aimed at raising awareness among the population regarding the need to consolidate a culture of disaster prevention in Peru. One of the activities included the exhibition of some 41 photographs –gathered from the archives of different national newspapers- at the Cultural House of the Municipality, on October 6-14. On Saturday, October 11, a walk took place with the participation of hundreds of representatives of Committees for Civil Defense, public institutions and private organizations, and citizens who spontaneously joined the activity. Simultaneously, a drawing and painting contest for children was held at Campo de Marte. The main theme of this contest was: “Learning to Protect Ourselves against Natural Disasters.”



PREMIDES organized a number of activities with students from the primary school of the Marianao Municipality. The Ministry of Public Health held workshops, exhibitions, and presentations of informative projects, among others. In addition, this ministry will start implementing a project aimed at improving preparedness in schools located in 7 different municipalities. This will be carried out with the valuable support of UNICEF and CLAMED, and with the participation of MINED, MINSAP and the National Red Cross.

On October 23, the Latin American Center for Medicine in Disasters (CLAMED) organized a national activity to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. This activity was led by the Head of CLAMED, representatives of the Office for Civil Defense, CLAMED’s personnel, the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba, other representatives from national and international organizations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, political organizations, doctors, nurses, teachers, Red Cross staff members and librarians, among others.

Delegations representing different sectors of society –who participated in prevention and preparedness disasters throughout the year-, were also invited to this activity. In addition, pregnant women, disabled people, workers from a tobacco company and other people who have been listening to Times of Hurricanes (radio drama series) also participated in this activity.

Through poetry, jingles, role-plays, songs, dances and stories, each group referred to theirknowledge of and reflection on disaster-related issues: floods, fresh water and rivers, evacuation, prevention, war, peace and love.

St Lucía

The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) joined efforts with the Water Resource Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fishery, to carry out an exhibition at the Alliance Française, in order to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. The goal of this activity was to urge the public at large to value water as an essential but limited resource.

Costa Rica
On October 6-10, the Local Emergency Committee of Cartago, with the support of other organizations, celebrated the National Week for Disaster Prevention. Among others, these activities included the holding of a seminar and a number of conferences related to risk reduction, a fair at Plaza Mayor, different workshops and drills. The main goal of the National Week was to address issues related to high-risk environment, geographic vulnerability and preventive warnings. Activities included the participation of people throughout the country.

The National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Department of the Costa Rican Red Cross visited the Mauro Fernandez School, in order to teach students, in an entertaining manner, about the importance of disaster prevention and reduction. Among clowns, games and songs, students reflected on the importance of risk reduction. The Red Cross staff of Santa Rosa de Pocosol also joined the celebration by holding conferences regarding the need to strengthen the preparedness and response capacities of different communities in the face of disasters.

Furthermore, the National Emergency Commission of Costa Rica, with the support of the principal’s office, teachers and students of the Republic of Haiti School, organized a tournament with fourth, fifth and sixth graders. On this occasion, the Riskland game, promoted by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, was used with these students. The final activity of this contest was held on October 8, 2003. The main goal of this activity, besides celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction, was to open appropriate spaces for students to learn, by playing, about the basic concepts involved in risk management. This will allow them to know of all those elements that have an impact on their level of vulnerability in the face of disasters. This was also a valuable opportunity to promote the use of Riskland.

United States

On October 8, the US Geological Survey (USGS) sponsored the holding of the Earth Observation Summit, which gathered r epresentatives from more than 30 countries. Participants to this event established the basis for the exchange of technology and equipment, aimed at understanding the world in a better manner. Through this summit, the USGS could analyze and document data that shows that there is still the need to improve science and technology in order to optimize the work done in the field of disaster prevention.

PAHO/OAS/American Red Cross

These three organizations invited the public at large to participate in an open celebration that took place at the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington DC. The main goal of this activity was to educate and inform the public about issues related to risk management.


On the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Center for Scientific Support in Disaster Situations (CENACID) and the Office of Civil Defense in Paraná, organized a seminar that gathered public officials, scientists, university professors, government representatives and students.

The Secretariat to Combat Poverty, through the Office of Civil Defense, joined celebration in the State of Sergipe. In this context, activities were held to raise awareness among the population in order to reduce disasters through the interaction of different institutions. In this context, a conference was organized with environmentalists, technicians in the field of civil defense, professionals working on issues related to water resources, teachers and students. The participation of students was considered essential, given that new generations must be able to lead a culture of disaster prevention, so that their impact on society is reduced in the near future.


Every year, on October 10, Chile celebrates the “National Day for Civil Protection” (ordered by Presidential Decree in 1991, as a concrete action to adhere to the IDNDR). The International Day for Disaster Reduction is also celebrated in October and, for this reason, the entire month is devoted to organizing activities that may have an impact on the public at large. The National System for Civil Protection participates in most of these activities.

In the context of the “National Month for Civil Protection”, the government of Chile, through its specialized body, the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior (ONEMI), met two major goals in the field of integral training on civil protection. These objectives were achieved through the signing of agreements with the most prestigious Chilean academic institutions, which will contribute to train specialists on national risk management. This year’s activities ended on October 23, with the “First National Exercise for School Security”, which also represented the ending of the first stage of a broader process aimed at developing the Integral Plan for School Security, developed by the Ministry of Education for all educational institutions in Chile.

In Mendoza, Gloria Bratschi –specialist in prevention, planning and integrated management of disaster-prone areas -, urged different sectors of society to open spaces for reflection on the work done regarding disaster prevention. On October 8, a working session was held at the Conventions and Exhibitions Center, sponsored by the National Technological University and the School of Political Science of the Cuyo University (both located in Mendoza). Issues addressed were related to “Living with Risk”, especially natural hazards such as the current drought and seismic risks.

The San Luis National University –which celebrated the Week of Psychologists without Borders on October 8-12 - organized the conference “The Role of the Media in Catastrophe Situations” and developed a course entitled “Introduction to Psychological Responses to Catastrophes.”

In addition, the Professional Program on Natural and Anthropogenic Disasters, -Pexprodes 2003-, was implemented at the El Salvador University in Buenos Aires. This effort is consistent with the commitment of this university as a contribution to optimize the work accomplished by those involved in the field of risk management. Furthermore, this university is in the process of creating a Center for Disaster Studies and a series of academic projects in order to develop training courses on disaster prevention and mitigation.

Also, in Tucumán, some 300 people from different sectors participated in the celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction. On this occasion, activities were coordinated by the Center for Emergency and Disaster Training (CEPRED). The local government announced that these activities were of great interest for the population at large, and the Ministry of Education and other similar institutions stated that all activities presented an important educational component. In this context, the program of activities included the holding of workshops intended for the education sector at all levels in order to raise awareness and assess related issues among them. These workshops represented a valuable opportunity to analyze ways in which thematic issues related to disasters may be incorporated into public education policies, and the organization and training of students. Ways to improve infrastructure within the education sector were also assessed. Workshops with children were also held, focusing on prevention and self-protection in the face of disasters. At the end of these activities, children presented posters related to these issues, which were drawn by them.

Bearing in mind the current situation of dams in Argentina, as well as the risks that they imply and the action plans needed to address emergency situations, the Regional Committee for Northern Dams organized the VI Working Session of the Argentinean Committee for Dams in the Northern Region. The session included the participation of a number of regional professionals whose work includes dam- and reservoir-related issues, especially in terms of fresh water and its current problems.


A storm is on the way
Lots of rain, lots of wind
Although it is still far off
We will be on alert

That’s how the message begins
From the Weather Service
To keep you informed
24 hours a day

You can hear the siren sound
Announcing that the firemen
Will be coming very soon
To put out the fire

If there is a landslide
Someone is trapped
If there is a flood
Someone will always be saved

For a man, his integrity
The mission is priority
From the relief crews
Who spring into action.

Catastrophes happen
In any community
It requires organization
For any society

Disasters cause damage
You have to keep in mind
If we take every precaution
There are fewer risks to fear

To avoid the effects
Of natural disasters
Or manmade ones
PREPARATION is the key

If we all cooperate
If we all take measures
We will have won the game
And saved many lives

Danais Milian Betancourt
11 years old, sixth grade
“Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra” School
Municipality of Arroyo Naranjo. Havana
October 2003