Newsletter ISDR Informs - The Americas


This is how the 2006-2007 campaign is being observed in the Americas

The UN/ISDR secretariat launched the 2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign titled “Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School.” The issues included in the campaign reflect the five priorities set forth in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disaster. A number of countries throughout the region organized different activities at local and national levels to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, observed worldwide on the second Wednesday of October, 2006.


La ONU/EIRD secretaría, lanzó la Campaña Mundial para la Reducción de Desastres: “La reducción de desastres comienza en la escuela” 2006-2007. Los temas de ésta reflejan las cinco prioridades que trazó el Marco de Acción de Hyogo para el 2005-2015: Aumento de la resiliencia de las naciones y las comunidades ante los desastres. Diversos países de la región organizaron diferentes actividades tanto a nivel local como nacional para conmemorar dicha fecha, el Día Internacional para la Reducción de Desastres, el segundo miércoles de octubre.

Central America

In El Salvador, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), jointly with the Service for Territorial Studies (SNET) and the Ministry of Interior, through the General Postal Service of El Salvador, introduced a new postage stamp. The purpose of this new stamp is to raise awareness among the population about the 2006-2007 World Disaster Reduction Campaign “Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School.” In addition, a number of Salvadoran ecological and community organizations filed a petition to modify the Law for Disaster Protection and Prevention. Finally, the Ministry of Environment informed that the school emergency plan is being updated, as well as a disaster prevention module. The Ministry is also incorporating risk management into educational activities and its coordination plans with other bodies working on environmental education and mental health.

In Honduras, the Netherlands Red Cross, in coordination with the Honduran Red Cross, launched the campaign titled “By supporting education we improve our children’s future”. The project’s main goal is to contribute to reducing drop-out rates and risk associated with natural disasters in 17 educational centers and communities by providing students with emergency related training, plans and related material.

In Guatemala, the Guatemalan Red Cross stressed the need to improve education, in order to plant the seeds for a generation prepared for disaster prevention. For their part, the National Disaster Reduction Coordinating Body (CONRED) emphasized the lack of technology needed to achieve an adequate emergency preparedness structure.

In Costa Rica, some 80 representatives from schools across the country participated in a workshop titled “Information on disaster risk reduction management and the role of school libraries in strengthening safe schools.” This event was organized by the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Response (CNE) and the Regional Disaster Information Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID). The CNE also sponsored flood prevention activities to raise public awareness about related issues, such as pollution and solid waste.

In Panama, on October 11, an official act took place with participation of students from several schools in Panama City. Students watched the video “Lecciones de Vida” (Life Lessons) and learned by playing “Riskland” on a gigantic board. The activity was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education, the National Civil Protection System of Panama (SINAPROC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF); Plan International, and the UN/ISDR secretariat, regional unit for the Americas.

South America

In Peru, celebrated this day with a street performance titled “The Carousel of Prevention,” organized by the National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI). In this context, activities were held at the Lima Zoo, with participation of hundreds of children, INDECI representatives, and delegates from various ministries, municipalities, and institutions that make up the National Civil Defense System (SINADECI). In addition, a press conference was held by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and a number of NGOs and institutions involved in risk management in schools. OXFAM prepared press releases and held seminars in different regions of the country. SOS Vidas Peru made a presentation on the project titled “Safe Schools”, with implementation to begin in conjunction with the launching of a school evacuation manual. The regional office (ECHO) for Latin America of Practical Action (ITDG), through its program titled “Disaster Prevention and Local Governance,” decided on an action plan for 2006 to raise awareness in schools and among government authorities on the need to incorporate risk management into educational institutions. The plan also intends to enhance recognition of schools as social actors in promoting disaster reduction at the community level.

In Bolivia, the Bolivian Red Cross observed the International Day by disseminating the message that “it is better to prevent.” This activity is framed within the context of a regional project of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in Andean countries: “Risk Reduction for Safer and More Prepared Communities.”

In addition, Save the Children Bolivia stressed the importance of the agreements signed in the area of education for disaster reduction. To date, Save the Children has entered into agreements with the European Community Humanitarian Affairs Office, the Vice-Ministry of Civil Defense and Cooperation for Integrated Development (VIDECICODI), the National Education Commission, UNICEF and the “Sphere” Project. The primary goal of these agreements is to train Bolivian educators on issues surrounding disaster reduction.

In Ecuador the National Civil Defense Office observed this day with the slogan “training is prevention.” Furthermore, a workshop on disaster reduction intended for journalists and mass media communicators is being planned. The importance of the project titled “Sustainable Cities” was highlighted in this context. The project will allow the development of risk maps and assessments with the purpose of fostering balanced growth of several cities throughout the country. In addition, the Regional Investigative Office of El Niño (EFREN) brought together various national and international actors such as the International Research Center on El Niño (CIIFEN), in order to forecast the evolution of this phenomenon and its effects on the Ecuadorian territory.

In Venezuela, the nation’s agencies emitted the declarations of Jan Egeland, UN emergency relief coordinator, stating that little has been done in the past to reduce disaster risk and prevent the loss of lives, livelihoods and communities. Mr. Egeland, however, underscored the importance of the partnerships developed by a number of countries and the ISDR in the field of risk reduction, as well as the recent partnership between the UN/ISDR secretariat and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

In Chile, various national economic publications referred to the World Bank’s message aimed at raising awareness among government authorities about the serious consequences of disasters worldwide during 2005 and 2006. A study launched by the World Bank on October 11 brings to light the fact that 3.4 billion people world wide are exposed to some type of hazard or risk, and announced a new fund that will help low and mid-income countries incorporate prevention policies into their national development strategies.

In Argentina,ActionAid International called upon governments to invest more in education for risk reduction, with the purpose of preventing disasters. Under the slogan “Education can save lives,” ActionAid conveyed this message, stating that “for each Euro invested in prevention, seven Euros in humanitarian aid could be saved”. In addition, in Mendoza, the “Los Andes” newspaper published an article, which was also covered by the Channel 9 news.

In Brasil, on October 11, the Technology Research Institute (IPT) led an activity to celebrate the International Day, under the slogan “The present with more education; the future with fewer disasters.” Children were the main actors of this activity. They wore uniforms of the Sao Paulo Civil Defense Office and participated in evacuation drills.

North America

In Mexico, the Emergency Administration of the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) launched its Operations Manual, as a methodological and strategic tool to be used in coordinating with other administrative bodies, before and after extreme hydro-meteorological events. The manual has been distributed to 30 CONAGUA state management offices and 13 regional management offices. In addition, ActionAid called upon governments to foster children’s education in emergency prevention.

In The United States, the media echoed the declarations of Mr. Jan Egeland, UN emergency relief coordinator, who underscored the importance of disaster prevention and adequate planning. Mr. Egeland also called attention to the disparate effects of natural disasters in rich and poor countries.

The Caribbean

In the Dominican Republic, in the context of its efforts to raise public awareness, Oxfam carried out five evacuation drills on October 11. These activities aimed at showing participants how to identify and use evacuation routes, and how to manage international emergency shelters.

In addition, a drawing contest aimed at raising awareness about risk reduction among children was brought to a close on October 11.

In Jamaica, the State Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) broadcast a radio message from its office and visited a number of schools as a means of interactively engaging students in disaster preparedness activities, highlighting basic actions to minimize the loss of human lives and damages.

In British Virgin Islands, students and teachers of a primary school in Capoons Bay were visited by the governor to commemorate the International Day. Radio and television programs developed by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) acknowledged the efforts of the Ministry of Education to include risk reduction in school curricula, as well as presentations made in various schools to address this issue.

In Cuba, in celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, authorities referred to the significant progress achieved in risk reduction, with the strong support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other UN agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP). The Cuban Civil Defense Office has also adopted risk reduction as a strategy at the local level. Finally, an approach to climate change adaptation is being applied, as there is scientific evidence that human activities are provoking environmental changes and increasing risks. In this context, a number of studies are being carried out to address vulnerability and adaptation, as well as prevention and control of forest fires.


UNESCO, CRID, the ISDR and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) concur on the importance of an informed population and educational initiatives in schools.

According to Omar Darío Cardona, advisor to the World Bank, “disasters generate poverty, but poverty also generates disasters.” Governments must be aware of the need to reduce risks.

Safe Schools (CRID)
In the near future, CRID will develop a specialized information resource on “Safe Schools” as a contribution to the 2006-2007 Campaign of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) and its partners. The slogan of the campaign is “Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School".