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


Partners in action


Work areas and partial results of PREDECAN to date

1.The strengthening of systems and policies at both national and the Andean subregional levels: The project provides support for the Andean countries in issues related to the National Systems for Disaster Prevention and Assistance and/or Civil Defense/Protection in terms of organizational aspects, policies, strategic planning, legal frameworks and the search for financial resources. This process is an important step forward regarding the implementation of the Andean System for Disaster Prevention and Assistance, which requires designing and agreeing upon an institutional framework for its appropriate functioning and subregional coordination. In this manner, the system will able to support thematic and technical networks among these countries, as well as policies and financial mechanisms.

In order to achieve this goal, the project not only takes into consideration institutional frameworks traditionally linked to disaster prevention and assistance, but it also attempts to involve other relevant actors for risk management, such as those related to environmental management, project development in different sectors, and financial mechanisms.

Simultaneously, the project will provide support for CAPRADE toward its consolidation as the Andean System for Disaster Prevention and Assistance, through the technical and legal support required for its own institutional strengthening, the establishment of common policies among all these countries, the exchange of experience and the creation of thematic and institutional networks.

2. Risk information, monitoring and evaluation systems: The project intends to strengthen national mechanisms for the generation, systematization, maintenance and dissemination of relevant information in a timely and adequate manner. This information may be applied to both development planning and disaster prevention and assistance measures, as well as to decision-making processes and knowledge in general. At the subregional level, activities have a focus on the standardization of procedures for producing, maintaining and exchanging information, as well as strengthening those institutions that foster similar processes at that level. Each country is responsible for creating national information systems for disaster prevention and assistance. These systems should be compatible with the rest of the systems established in the subregion so that they may be interconnected, as required by the thematic networks.

This action item is based upon the following conceptual model (Comfort, Louise):

  • Information is shared to the extent in which an organization improves and, thus, the level of interaction increases.
  • The level of coordination also increases whenever organizations share information.
  • Effectiveness increases in relation to the extent in which coordination among different organizations develops.

The PREDECAN project is currently contracting personnel to conduct a study related to national resources for information systems. The data acquired will be the foundation for the design and development of the system, as well all for identifying software and hardware needs.

3. The incorporation of risk management into territorial, sectoral and development planning processes: This work area includes the development of instruments and methodologies for considering risk a critical element in decision-making processes that affect land zoning and development planning; promoting rules and regulations related to land use and zoning with the aim of preventing and mitigating existing risks; and, jointly with sectoral bodies, formulating programs and projects for incorporating risk assessments and mitigation into investment plans.

In September 2005, PREDECAN took the lead and held an international workshop entitled “Incorporation of Risk Analysses into Planning Processes and Public Investments in Latin America and the Caribbean”. This event was organized jointly with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Peruvian Ministry of Finance, with the valuable support of various international organizations such as the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDR), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Based upon the partial results of this international workshop, a study will be conducted on the progress made in the incorporation of risk management into territorial and sectoral planning, and financial mechanisms. Within the Andean region, it is important to highlight that:

a. From a legal stand point, some countries still face a number of difficulties due to the fact that they do not have any legislation specifically designed to guide the use and occupation of their lands, based upon existing environmental restrictions;
b. At the financial level, ex-post mechanisms continue to be the predominant trend. Little progress has been made in the establishment of financial instruments that benefit a type of risk management that change the current situation. It is worth noting, however, the budding status of the insurance market in this subregion; and,
c. It is imperative to make progress in the establishment of technical instruments (guidelines, manuals, etc.) that steer the incorporation of risk management into territorial, sectoral and development planning.

In the interim, the PREDECAN project will initiate a process for developing and promoting the aforementioned instruments aimed at incorporating risk analyses into planning processes.

4. Education and awareness related to risk management: An effective risk management system requires that the population be aware of the ways that risk is increased by every-day local, regional and national development activities. This understanding of the relationship that exists between nature and society creates the attitudes that will allow for the incorporation of prevention values into our culture.

PREDECAN continues to be a project for institutional strengthening at subregional and national levels. As such, it places emphasis on raising awareness among decision-makers, as well as on training staff from the institutions that constitute the national systems for disaster prevention and assistance. Along these lines, PREDECAN promotes events such as exchanges of experience among these countries. The project also proposes to provide assistance to higher education programs, and foster curricula development among the member countries of the Andean Community.

Based upon the partial results of an illustrative study on the progress made in community education and social communication, carried out jointly by PREDECAN4 and the National Institute for Civil Defense (INDECI) of Peru, as the country that presides over CAPRADE during 2004-2005, it is imperative to take into account the following aspects:

a. In the Andean subregion, efforts devoted to processes related to community education and social communication have not had a great impact on target groups, at least not at the level required to foster the incorporation of the concept of prevention into the cultural values of representative population groups;
b. Community education programs promoted to date focus primarily on disseminating information on preparedness and response actions, in particular in urban areas; and,
c. Decision makers and the media have not been seen as strategic partners. This is reflected in the limited progress that both public and private institutions involved in risk management have made in the field of education for disaster prevention.

PREDECAN expects to formulate and implement joint education, awareness, and information and communication strategies for risk management, based on the results of the various regional workshops held to date, which have led to a greater knowledge about the progress made by countries in this field. Particular consideration has been given to the proposals and documents submitted by CAPRADE's presidency (2004-2005) during it sixth session, carried out on October 27-28 in Caracas, as well as the interviews held with various social players and decision makers from the five member countries.

5. Pilot projects for strengthening participation in local risk management: Through these activities, PREDECAN intends to support NGOs and other organizations that involve citizen participation, as well as academic institutions and the media, so that society participates in risk management processes at the local level. This includes the exchange of information, and decision making and implementation processes. The next steps to be taken include the design of broad-based participatory and inclusive processes, the identification of all relevant participants, the effective use of the media, the furtherance of transparent participatory approaches, and the establishment of clear responsibilities for the various institutions involved.

For additional information, please contact:
Ana Campos, acampos@comunidadandina.org
Director, PREDECAN

1 According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), between 1970 and 2001, the total of accumulated losses associated with disasters amounted to $68.6 billion, which represents an approximate annual cost of $2.2 billion (GEO Report. Environmental Perspectives. Based on CRED and OFDA, and other estimates. April 16, 2003).
2 ECLAC. Documents: socioeconomic assessments of disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2003
2 Adapted from the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), in a document of the Andean Strategy for Disaster Prevention and Assistance, 2004.
3 4 Systhemize information from the international workshop: Second andean subregional encounter entitled “The role of community education and social communication in disaster prevention and respons