Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter for Latin America and the Caribbean Inssue No. 15, 1999
Natural disaster prevention in the Paute River Basin, Ecuador (PRECUPA Project)
Bearing in mind the enormous social and economic impact of natural disasters in Ecuador, the Swiss Disaster Relief Unit (SDR/CSS) and several Ecuadoran institutions carried out a pilot project between 1994 and 1998 for natural disaster prevention in the Paute river basin, affected by the La Josefina catastrophe. The following paragraphs will summarize the chief products and lessons learned for disaster reduction.
Why is disaster prevention indispensable?
Ecuador, like other Latin American countries, is highly vulnerable to destructive natural phenomena, and this vulnerability is on the rise, seriously compromising the countrys economy and development.
The PRECUPA Project was carried out within the framework of international cooperation to help Ecuador improve its capacity for natural disaster prevention by developing and implementing a methodology and monitoring network that can help to assess various phenomena, their level of risk, and the areas most at risk, and to apply this methodology for disaster reduction on the basis of technology that can prove useful not only to Ecuador but eventually to other countries in the region.
The project focused on a 5,200 km2 area with a population of 800,000, including the third largest city in the country, Cuenca, and a highly productive economic zone. Activities focused on a study of local natural hazards, vulnerability and desirable mitigation initiatives, based on geology and geotechnology, hydrometeorology, seismology, limnology, applications and Civil Defense.
The Swiss Disaster Relief Unit was directly involved in the execution of the project. Special attention was paid to professional training through internships to guarantee the continuity of activities by counterpart organizations and professionals on the ground. Results were shared with municipalities, which are entrusted with land-use planning and development and educational programmes.
RedR is an international charity with offices in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva. The organizations mission is to bring relief to disaster victims by selecting and training highly qualified and competent professionals and making them available to humanitarian organizations around the world. Its chief area of expertise is engineering.
The group has 1,000
active members who can go on three to six-month assignments for humanitarian
agencies, often without having to resign their everyday jobs. Members
represent a wide variety of fields of expertise, such as water supply
and sanitation, logistics, transport management, project management, needs
assessment, accounting and financial control, and telecommunications.
The only professionals excluded are medical personnel, since they are
readily available through other humanitarian aid organizations. Members
must have at least two years work experience, useful skills in an
emergency situation, and a firm commitment to the goal of effective disaster
International humanitarian aid organizations have a great demand for cooperants who can speak both English and Spanish, who are willing to work in the challenging field of disaster relief, and who would be willing to be a part of RedRs registers.
If you are interested in joining RedR, or learning more about the organization, you may visit their Web site, listed below, which has some pages in Spanish, or contact Camilla Vaux at the London office.
For more information,