Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
Medellíns Municipal Disaster Prevention and Response System (SIMPAD) and the Community Network for Disaster Prevention and Response
Colombias National Disaster Prevention and Response System serves as an umbrella for all public and private entities involved in plans, programs, projects, or specific activities aimed at disaster reduction. The System has defined a National Plan outlining all relevant policies, whether sectoral, national, regional, or local.
The city of Medellín, eager to play its role at the local government level, decided in 1994 to create its own Municipal Disaster Prevention and Response System (SIMPAD).
The System, created by Municipal Resolution No. 14/1994, has the following mission: Leading and coordinating the policies and actions required for disaster prevention, as well as for response and recovery in the event of an emergency or disaster, furthering the development of a preventive attitude in the Medellín community through educational, planning, and organizational processes in alignment with the citys development plans.
The Municipal Disaster Prevention and Response Systems main goal is promoting a culture of prevention in the municipality, including the participation of the community in its programs and projects. One of the key projects citywide is the strengthening of community organization for emergency prevention and response, including committees at the level of districts, neighborhoods, and even specific streets where necessary.
Agreements with several universities have helped SIMPAD develop its strategy for encouraging community participation, which makes the latest academic findings available and confronts them creatively with the first-hand experience of local government officials and community members.
The Community Network is an organized, open, and participatory system that can link up the knowledge, practices, and skills of individuals, non-governmental and community organizations, and government institutions. The structure enables them to attain common goals on the basis of similar challenges, maximizing resources and solving problems that would be hard to manage in isolation.
Working as a Community Network enables every member of the neighborhood committees, and every committee, to define objectives, share experiences, and work together to improve their quality of life. At the same time, it creates a new vision that makes it possible for community members to transform the conditions of risk in which they live.
The impact of the Community Network on disaster prevention and response can be gauged from the following facts:
Finally, it should be pointed out that the commitment and high participation of the neighborhood committees, and their insatiable demand for greater training, have forced project organizersto their delightto strengthen the academic process, creating six levels for a total of 240 hours of training in disaster prevention and response, with unified curricula and practices involving subjects such as ethics and values, health, land management, emergency plans, and the design and assessment of projects.