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


Main activities carried out by the Central University of Venezuela

Universities and risk: opening a space at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV)

This event was aimed at providing a space to publicly show the contributions of Venezuelan universities to the area of risk reduction, particularly in terms of socio-natural disasters in this country. These contributions have been made by developing academic documents in the fields of teaching, research, outreach and management. During this forum the presentations made were intended for members of the academic community, public bodies, private organizations, the media and the public in general. During the opening ceremony, the first announcement for the “UCV Journalism Award for Risk Mitigation to Socio-Natural Disasters” was made. This award was established by the University Council's resolution of December 15, 2004, with the purpose of acknowledging the annual contributions of the media (radio stations, press and TV channels) to the incorporation of socio-natural disaster prevention into the culture of Venezuela.

International training course on the design and implementation of risk analysis and mitigation plans to address various natural hazards, delivered by the OAS.

This course was carried out at the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the Central University of Venezuela, with the valuable support of its staff and the Commission for Risk Mitigation (COMIR). The course gathered some 40 participants from more than 15 universities located in various countries of the Americas. Among the participants were decision-makers from university institutions, professionals in the fields of engineering and architecture, professors associated with the academic and operational components of risk management (both at the mitigation stage and during emergency responses), managers of physical infrastructures, etc. This activity focused on the strengthening of institutional decision-making processes in the areas of design and implementation of plans for natural hazard risk reduction, and their corresponding implementation. This goal must be based upon a comprehensive approach in order to work at the institutional level and build partnerships with communities, the public and private sectors toward a common end: reduce existing vulnerabilities and risk.

Staff members of national and international universities were trained to develop planning activities and manage physical infrastructures, including the management of existing risks and the establishments of networks.
Second National Encounter and First International Encounter on Higher Education and Risk: “Habitat and Risk. The Role of Universities.”

Through the Commission for Risk Mitigation, and jointly with the IVX-G Network of the Latin American Science and Technology Program for Development (CYTED), the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Organization of American States (OAS), UNESCO's International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC-UNESCO), and the valuable support of the Council for the Scientific and Humanistic Development, of the Central University of Venezuela (CDC-UCV), the UCV held the Second National Encounter and the First International Encounter on Higher Education and Risk, with a focus on “Habitat and Risk. The Role of Universities.” These events gathered more than 85 participants from different universities of the region, as well as from various national institutions.

The primary goal of these gatherings was to assess the progress made since March 2000, when the First Encounter on Higher Education and Risk took place at the UCV, and since the holding of the Second Hemispheric Conference, organized by the OAS and FEDE and held in Caracas, Venezuela. These events also provided a valuable opportunity to exchange proposals and national and international experience.

One of the major outcomes of these gatherings was a document that will be used to disseminate these experiences and proposals among higher education institutions and its partner organizations, as well as to foster concrete actions to address these issues within the different contexts in which they were originated.

The document will be sent to the authorities of participating institutions for their consideration. In this manner, it is expected that the document will serve to promote the creation of a follow-up mechanism and the incorporation of risk management into higher education on the part of both the National Council of Venezuelan Universities and equivalent or similar bodies in each participating country.

The document focused on a number of proposals, strategies and timetables to address different aspects in the following areas:
1. Institutional strengthening
Aspects that indicate that institutions are addressing issues related to their existing vulnerability to socio-natural disasters, through structural programs. These programs should include their legal platforms, the comprehensive incorporation of risk management into these institutions and the activities held through the programs of various schools and agencies.

2. Academic field
Within the current academic structures, the incorporation of aspects that would permit to further develop our knowledge on socio-natural risks. This includes undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as their link to research and outreach activities, the incorporation of cross-cutting issues into existing curricula, the development of new special and interdisciplinary courses, and information management. These activities should facilitate the application of knowledge in the framework of existing structures and resources.

3. Physical infrastructures
Projects and experiences for the management of physical infrastructures in a secure manner, serving as an example for society at large, as a means for community education, and as a research topic.

4. Training for university students
Risk management should become part of the activities of student bodies. To this end, it is necessary to advance projects and experiences that contribute to the overall improvement of information and communication training programs, as well as to the promotion of internships and volunteer work.

For additional information, please contact:
Mercedes Marrero