Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in action
Municipalities and Risk Management:
In the municipality of Maipú, province of Mendoza, Argentina, a new process has begun which focuses on preventing natural, socio-natural, and man-made/ technological risks through ongoing and sustainable risk mitigation and preparedness actions. It is worth mentioning that, like the rest of the province, this municipality is located in a region with a high level of seismic activity. It is also periodically affected by other phenomena such as zonda winds1 , floods, frost, and hail. Maipú has a total area of 717 km2, 70% of which is rural and 30% is urban. It is located 804 meters above sea level and its 153,417 inhabitants live in a beautiful region surrounded by vineyards, orchards, wine shops, and tourist destinations.
The timeline of activities established a model that is applied according to the requirements for implementing the process. The process design also took into account the idiosyncrasies and culture of the region, the type of the implementing organization, and its mission and vision, as well as the active participation of both its staff and the community at large, existing institutional capacities, and various risk and multi-hazard maps. Other aspects also fed into and guided the process. A simple diagram shows what has been developed thus far, but it is expected that the various phases will grow as the process continues.
In order to develop leadership for an appropriate risk management process, a first stage had to be completed, which focused on working with municipal staff to raise their awareness and improve their information and communication capacities. A number of meetings were held in 24 different areas, management offices, agencies, and headquarters. These meetings were scheduled and organized by grouping similar sectors, in the following order:
The primary goal of the meetings was to let people know that a process was being implemented and to stimulate individual and collective ideas about the vulnerabilities they perceived in particular work areas. With this in mind, participants produced a number of “risk maps” in which they also proposed solutions.
The timeline of activities was based upon a number of priorities that show that the first stage of implementing a risk management process should focus, above all, on the institutions themselves. Staff members must be duly informed and aware, and must also be trained to protect themselves in the event of a disaster or adverse situation. Currently, various ad hoc teams are working on the development of emergency prevention and response plans, in addition to other activities included in the timeline.
Municipalities are bodies that provide communities with services; hence, they need to be prepared appropriately, with comprehensive planning processes, that allow them to become dynamic actors, in synergy with others within a system for risk prevention and emergency response.
This is how the organization incorporates new values to protect life. These values will then become part of the workings of the community. As organizations become aware of the profound importance of risk prevention work, they will also be able to optimize their work on, for instance, development projects, new investments in social welfare, community training programs, service infrastructure maintenance, improvement in standards of living and, of course, responses to any crisis situation arising from natural or man-made hazards.
The mayor of the municipality of Maipú, Adolfo Bermejo, has adopted this risk management implementation process as a “State policy” and made it part of his government plan. In this way, he is addressing the need to replace a “mental emergency model” with one that is more far-sighted and participatory, and has a clearer approach that continuously fosters risk mitigation. The new approach is reaffirmed in the municipality’s motto: “Together we make Maipú the best place to live.” This also represents a commitment to sustainable development, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) promoted by the UN and supported by a number of international organizations.
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