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



Venezuela Mechanisms for Formulating Risk Prevention and Mitigation Programs: Local Management of the Caracas Metropolitan Area


In order to manage risk in an effective manner, it is necessary to address the underlying causes of the increasing level of vulnerability, and improve policies related to risk prevention and mitigation at the municipal level. It is also necessary to incorporate actions into existing operational plans at the managerial level in each municipal institution, without having to create any new organizational structure. The variable of risk must be integrated as a cross-cutting issue. In this manner, it will become part of municipal planning processes and, therefore, the “Risk Management” process itself will be institutionalized as a cross-cutting issue within those policies to be established at the municipal level. In the context of the Caracas Metropolitan Area (CMA), different programs are being implemented so that prevention becomes part of development processes. Along these lines, Prean-dino represents one of the most important programs to date.

First, the Preandino program allows us to conduct analyses regarding those institutional levels to be strengthened. It also provides specific guidance about the actions to be implemented at the operational level in terms of prevention, mitigation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Secondly, it establishes an institutional framework agreement so that risk prevention and mitigation programs go beyond current and continuous political changes. This agreement also intends to make these programs sustainable, given that they represent large investments in social, economic and political terms. Finally, Preandino provides municipal planners and decision-makers with information about hazards, vulnerability and related risks in all municipalities that constitute the CMA. This information may be used to plan and implement concrete actions, taking into consideration the variable of risk within both plans and programs that may have an impact on the development of these municipalities.

The PREANDINO Program and the Global Report:
Mechanisms for Formulating Risk Prevention and Mitigation Programs

Based on a number of experiences gained at the national level, the Preandino-Venezuela Program is currently working at the local level in the Caracas Metropolitan Area, with the purpose of fostering and supporting local risk prevention and mitigation policies from a development perspective. The program also aims at strengthening existing municipal bodies and institutiona-lizing prevention throughout the CMA, which is located in the southern part of the coastal mountain range. Its area covers 776,675 sq km., including the municipalities of Baruta, Chacao, El Ha-tillo, Sucre and Libertador. This region is highly vulnerable to geo-dynamic, hydro-meteorological, hydro-geo-dynamic and seismic hazards. In some cases, this has led to natural disasters and, as a result, institutions from the aforementioned municipalities have been required to make large investments. This is why it is critical that prevention is incorporated into the planning processes of the CMA.


Caracas Metropolitan Area

The Global Report represents an important contribution and a strategic tool implemented by Preandino for assessing initiatives aimed at preventing and reducing risks, and as a mechanism for establishing an awareness index in terms of risk prevention and management. The Global Report also constitutes a methodological instrument that permits the envisioning of processes related to prevention. It accomplishes this via the quantitative and qualitative assessment of aspects such as:

• Policies and strategies;

• Knowledge and categorization of phenomena, hazards, vulnerability and risks;

• Instruments for prevention: plans, land development, information, education, community organization and training; surveillance, monitoring, and infrastructure.

The assessment of patterns to incorporate prevention allows us to identify a number of factors that have an impact on disaster reduction, in order to integrate such elements into development processes. The following are the indicators included in the Global Report for assessing initiatives:

It should be noted that each of these measurement criteria uses a variable scoring scale from 0 to 4, indicating the degree to which prevention has been incorporated. Using this scale, it is possible to create the “Index of Social Awareness of Prevention and Natural Disaster Risk Management,” based on qualitative and quantitative traits included in the Global Report. The following diagram depicts the index of social awareness of prevention and risk management, based on the abovementioned indicators.

Based on the information included in the Global Report, it is possible to develop the Index of Social Awareness of Prevention and Natural Disaster Risk Management. In this manner, it will be possible to determine the current status of prevention management, as a starting point for identifying existing weaknesses, establishing strategic plans, promoting projects and seeking support in order to strengthen prevention management at the local level in the CMA. It is also important for all planning agencies to coordinate prevention-related issues, as they are in charge of formulating development policies and fostering proactive participation from other bodies in the field of prevention, so that the variable of risk is incorporated into annual operational plans. By integrating this variable into annual operational plans, municipalities will be able to obtain the financial resources required for establishing adequate policies and strategies, based on the existing knowledge of phenomena, threats, vulnerability and risks, so that prevention becomes part of development processes. In addition, based on the resources invested to carry out prevention-related actions, it will be possible to quantify the cost-benefit ratio in terms of risk prevention and mitigation, and arrive to the conclusion that all actions undertaken in this field represents profitable investments in social, economic and political terms, especially for municipality and development agencies, given that this is a feasible way to reduce the existing level of vulnerability.

For further information, please contact:
Carolina Ascanio