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

Newsletter for Latin America and the Caribbean        Inssue No. 15, 1999


World Campaign
Prevention Pays

In 1999, the Campaign focused on assessing the concrete results and achievements of disaster reduction in the 1990s, and on promoting “a global culture of prevention for the 21st Century.” The past few decades have brought with them considerable losses due to natural disasters. They have claimed the lives of 50,000 people as a result of catastrophic floods in Asia, mortal hurricanes in the Americas, and the grievous consequences of El Niño and La Niña in several continents. According to Munich Reinsurance, economic losses surpass $90,000 million. The most frequent disasters were storms and floods, causing 85% of total economic losses. However, during the past 10 years considerable progress has been made in disaster prevention and reduction.

On 13 October 1999, the global event for World Disaster Reduction Day was held in Mexico City. Activities were organized jointly by the UN International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) and the Government of Mexico. The subject of the Campaign was Disaster Pays: Science and Technology Applied to Disaster Reduction Save Lives and Preserve Material Goods. Some 100 countries organized activities to commemorate the day.

During the event in Mexico, the UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Prevention was presented, followed by a round table on experiences in disaster prevention around the world. Renowned experts discussed seismic risk reduction.

The ceremony was inaugurated by the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosario Green, who spoke about future challenges in disaster reduction in an increasingly vulnerable world. Coincidentally, severe floods were at the time hitting Mexico and Central America, highlighting the relevance of the topic.

The 1999 World Disaster Reduction Day also coincided with the IDNDR International Symposium on the RADIUS Initiative – Towards Earthquake Safe Cities, which was held in Tijuana, Mexico, 11-14 October. Tijuana is one of the case-study cities under the RADIUS Initiative.

World Campaigns, including Word Disaster Reduction Day, will continue in the new century under the coordination of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). The goal is to achieve viable and sustainable development, particularly of local communities at risk.

World Campaign Topics During the Decade

1993 – Disaster prevention in schools and hospitals – it’s also your business. In our region, the campaign was linked to PAHO and OAS programmes. Experts in education and safe schools, health care and health facilities, and media representatives met in Tlaxcala, Mexico to work out the campaign strategy.

1994 – Vulnerable communities – disaster prevention. The campaign was linked to the Social Development Summit that the UN held in Copenhagen that year. Emphasis was placed on the need for communities to play an active role in vulnerability and risk reduction.

1995 – Women and children – active participants in disaster prevention. The campaign was linked to the World Women’s Conference, which was held in Beijing.

1996 – Cities at risk. The campaign was linked to the Second Habitat Conference, held in Istanbul. Efforts were coordinated with regional and international municipal federations.

1997 – Too much water… too little – the leading cause of natural disasters. The campaign focused on the overwhelming impact of drought and floods. It coincided with the start of a strong ENSO.

1998 – Prevention begins with information. While all campaigns have obviously focused on the role of the media and public information, this year emphasis was placed on the need to work jointly with media personnel. A regional workshop was held in Quito, Ecuador, to produce a Guide For Social Communication And Disaster Prevention.

1999 – Prevention pays: technology to save lives and assets. The final campaign of the Decade focused on positive experiences, showing that investing in prevention really pays off.