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


Seminar: "Involving communities in risk reduction programs"

On November 18-20, through its Risk Research Center (CIR), the University of Falcon carried out a successful seminar in Punto Fijo entitled "Involving Communities in Risk Reduction Programs.” The event was held in the context of a United Nations program of activities related to risk management.

During his opening remarks, Dr. Solano Calles, Rector of the University of Falcon, addressed speakers, presenters and participants, highlighting the importance of this seminar as part of a joint effort of a large number of organizations responsible for disaster response in Venezuela.

As part of the opening program, the keynote address was delivered by Ms. Nuris Orihuela, Vice minister of Research and Innovation of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Her presentation, entitled “The Ministry of Science and Technology and Risk Reduction Programs”, describe how the Ministry took into consideration the relevant work done by Venezuelan universities when it became involved in the field of risk management.


Ms. Orihuela also led a panel concerning the work done by the Ministry and pointed out that, although investment had been made in technology in the past, there was a lack of information dissemination for appropriate decision making. For this reason, a center was created with the purpose of gathering forecasting data with the use of various technologies, including the use of satellites for event simulation, monitoring and control.

Colonel Antonio Rivero, National Director of Civil Protection and Disaster Administration, also participated in the seminar. Colonel Rivero stated that risk management is not the exclusive responsibility of one specific organization, but rather should be the ongoing obligation of every single public official. He emphasized that the Red Cross, fire departments, enforcement bodies, the armed forces, civil protection organizations and the population at large should all work together as a team and with selfless attitudes towards their common goal.

The seminar was also attended by a number of international speakers such as Yukio Aoshima, former Director of Urban Management of the local government of Osaka, Japan, who gave a presentation on the “System for Coastal Defense and Protection against Floods in the City of Osaka”. Furthermore, Hugo Vilsink, professor of the University of Delft, the Netherlands, spoke on “the Risk of Flooding in Protection Dams”.


Omar Dario Cardona, professor of the Institute for Environmental Studies of the National University of Colombia, presented on the experience of his country in community outreach in Manizales. Mr. Cardona delivered the conference entitled “Collective Risk Management: A Framework based upon a Laboratory-City.” In addition, Virginia Garcia Acosta, Director of the Research Center for Social Anthropology Higher Studies of Mexico, addressed the seminar on “Social Risk Construction and Deconstruction.”

Among the Venezuelan specialists invited to the seminar were Alfredo Cilento Sarli, of the Institute for Experimental Construction Development (IDEC), who spoke on “Urban Vulnerability: Resilience Capacity and the Role of Academia”; Gustavo Malavé, President of the Venezuelan Foundation for Seismologic Research (FUNVISIS), who lectured about “Action Projects for Mitigating Seismic Risk in Venezuela”; and Pedro Bastidas, of the Organization of American States (OAS), who presented on “The Experience of the Office for Sustainable Development and the Environment in Involving Communities in Risk Reduction Programs”. It is worth mentioning that more than twenty other presentations were delivered.

One of the most outstanding activities of this seminar was the forum entitled “Hurricane Katrina from a Venezuelan Perspective”, which provided the opportunity to analyze various issues related to the background, engineering, human behavior, the role of the media and search-and-rescue related aspects during this meteorological event which recently affected the east coast of the United States.

During the closing ceremony, the Rector of UDEFA gave a plaque to Mr. Juan Murria, Director of CIR-UDEFA, in recognition of the work done in organizing this seminar and for being the only Latin American individual awarded the Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction Medal 2005, which is given by UNESCO.

At the seminar’s conclusions, Calles Paz announced that a similar activity will be held periodically, and referred to UDEFA’s intention to offer a course related to risk management in the near future.

The seminar was attended by more than 300 participants, including professionals, representatives of various companies and students.

For additional information, please contact:
Freddy Reyes C.