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


Global ISDR


CThe 2005 World Campaign:
Celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction

As in the past, the International Day for Disaster Reduction was observed on the second Wednesday of October. In 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations established the International Day as a critical component of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). The primary goal of the International Day is to build local capacities to reduce the impact of natural disasters, as well as to promote a strong commitment to these efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels. It is also a means to raise the profile of disaster reduction issues worldwide.

This year, the UN/ISDR launched the 2005 World Disaster Reduction Campaign entitled: “Invest to prevent disasters”, a topic related to the International Year of Microcredit. The UN/ISDR produced and distributed a briefing booklet with information in this regard.

Various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean organized a number of activities locally and nationally to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which was celebrated on October 12 this year.

The following pages contain information on the relevant activities carried out throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.


On October 12, the Haitian Civil Protection Bureau (DPC), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), celebrated the International Day for Disaster Reduction. Although the theme of this year’s campaign was “Invest to prevent disasters”, in Haiti it was deemed necessary to lay emphasis on “Reducing the impact of disasters; working for the country’s development.” This concept is based on the fact that although it is impossible to prevent natural hazards from occurring, it is possible to reduce the existing level of vulnerability in communities. Along these lines, Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of the DCP highlighted the importance of going from disaster management to disaster risk management, stating that one of the challenges in Haiti is to invest in prevention to reduce the impact of natural disasters.



The International Day for Disaster Reduction was celebrated in Junín, Mendoza under the auspices of the local municipality and a group of journalists from radio and television stations, and the written press. Activities included a forum entitled “The Media and Disaster Prevention”, which featured a workshop to examine different cases involving disaster coverage in the media, as well as prevention actions that may be taken by this sector. Mario Enrique Abed, district head of Junín; Guillermo Cruz, director of the Civil Defense Bureau of the Province of Mendoza; and Gloria Bratschi, disaster prevention specialist and international consultant, delivered the opening remarks. Ms. Bratschi made a presentation that covered various topics, including the contents of the Hyogo Framework for Action, which was developed as a result of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR). In her remarks, Ms. Bratschi pointed out that education for sustainable development is also a responsibility of the media.

The COMIR Program (Commission for Risk Mitigation) also held a workshop, which was led by the Volunteer Firefighters Association of Godoy Cruz, and addressed the following issues: theory related to fires, how to handle fire extinguishers, basic rescue concepts and notions, and seismic emergency plans. As an evaluation exercise, a drill was conducted at the end of the workshop. This exercise included a simulated emergency situation, in which participants were able to put into practice the knowledge acquired, such as the use of fire extinguishers and the correct ways to carry victims.

At the end of both activities, participants were divided into work groups that analyzed various scenarios and specific cases that involved disaster prevention and media coverage. The Municipality of Junín will continue sponsoring this type of events in the future so as to address other important aspects of risk management in the region and in the province of Mendoza.



The Bayamo Municipal Headquarters of the Granma University organized an activity to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. The event included a presentation by Dr. Ángel Álvarez Chacón, professor of disaster studies, in which he discussed a number of disasters that are currently taking place in the world. This activity was led by the director of the Municipal Headquarters, and brought together professors, workers, members of the University Students Federation’s Council (FEU), students, and representatives of various political and mass organizations. In addition, the regional radio station broadcast a program to describe the activities carried out by this municipality and the general measures taken by Cuba to mitigate disasters.


In the context of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Research Group on Environmental Risk (GIRA), jointly with the Local Committee for Disaster Prevention and Response (CLOPAD) of the Municipality of Popayán (Cauca-Colombia),
organized an entire prevention week that included various academic activities. In addition, relief organizations held an event at the San Francisco Square, during which firefighters, the Civil Defense Bureau, CLOPAD and the Red Cross conducted rescue drills and other activities. These included a presentation on the equipment used by the Colombian Southwestern Seismologic Observatory (OSSO) to show the public how earthquakes are registered. CLOPAD took this opportunity to call on the community to avoid littering in wastewater and stormwater pipes, or in streams, rivers and sewers, as this may lead

Costa Rica

The National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Response, jointly with the Local Committee for Risk Prevention and Emergency Response of the district of San Jose, developed a one-week program to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, based upon two primary goals: raise awareness among the population of the importance of working on prevention actions with the purpose of reducing disaster risk, and strengthen the inclusion of institutions and the population in actions for disaster risk reduction. In addition, the Department of Disaster Prevention of the Red Cross participated in the Pialis Fair, which took place in the context of the International Congress of Children's Literature sponsored by the University of San Jose, as part of the activities held to celebrate the International Day at the Children's Museum.


On October 15, the National Institute for Civil Defense of Peru (INDECI), in coordination with the bodies that constitute the National Civil Defense System, organized a walk and a rock concert entitled “For life and for disaster prevention.” The main purpose of this event was to raise awareness among youth and obtain their commitment to a joint effort devoted to build a culture of prevention that could contribute to sustainable development in Peru. This activity was sponsored by two prominent private companies. Significantly, the media played a noteworthy role in informing the public about these activities and encouraging their participation. Approximately 3,000 people participated in this event, including music groups, floats depicting the subject at hand, dancers, performers on stilts and other artists that lent a festive air to the activity. Both the walk and the concert “For life and for disaster prevention” were broadcast live by the main cable channel of Lima. The participants expressed their commitment to continue to work toward a strong culture of prevention in Peru