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

Partners in Action


Central American Coordination Center
for Natural Disaster Prevention (CEPREDENAC)

The Strategic Framework for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction in Central America and the Central American Five-Year Initiative for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction

Political Will

One year after hurricane Mitch hit Central America, killing almost 10,000, leaving nearly 2 million without home or livelihood, and causing millions of dollars in losses in every sector of the Nicaraguan, Honduran and Salvadoran economies, the presidents of the isthmus agreed to redouble their efforts to reduce the impact of natural disasters.

This expression of political will took place during the 1999 Central American Presidential Summit, which was held in Guatemala on 18 and 19 October and brought together the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and the First Vice President of Panama, as well as the Vice President of the Dominican Republic and the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize as observers.

The leaders adopted a Strategic Framework for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction in Central America, as part of the process of transformation required to ensure the sustainable development of the region in the new century and beyond. This Framework includes basic guidelines on prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and emergency management, and pays special attention to the most vulnerable sectors of society, including the poor, the elderly, children, women, and other groups excluded because of their ethnic or other identity.

Also during the Summit, the presidents inaugurated the Central American Quinquennium (Five-Year Period) for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction (2000-2004), and called on the Central American Coordination Center for Natural Disaster Prevention (CEPREDENAC) to coordinate the effort. CEPREDENAC’s member states are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Belize and the Dominican Republic are in the process of joining the organization.

The Center has already started promoting activities related to the Quinquennium, half a decade during which disasters and vulnerability issues will be highlighted in every national and regional sector. This also means that CEPREDENAC, besides its regular initiatives that are decided upon by the individual member countries, will engage in additional activities to support the work of national and regional organizations in the area of disaster prevention and mitigation.

The presidents agreed to allocate the domestic financial resources that such initiatives might require, according to the possibilities of each country. They called once again on the international community to contribute to the effort of decreasing vulnerability levels in the region, and instructed the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to coordinate the search for international, technical and complementary financial resources needed for regional-level projects with the support of the Central American Integration System (SICA), while the government entities will do what is appropriate at the national level.

Action Plan

The Strategic Framework will guide the development of regional plans for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction; Integrated Management and Conservation of Water Resources; and Prevention and Control of Forest Fires. It will lead to an Action Plan that will be reviewed and updated periodically, and will combine prevention and mitigation with preparedness and emergency management. These issues will be introduced systematically in all medium- and long-term development plans, national, sectoral, or local, and will strengthen the operational capacity of the entities in charge of contingency preparedness and management.
The plan—which will include a clear definition of the institutional responsibilities for its execution at the regional and national level—will focus on five main areas:

  • The strengthening of vulnerability and contingency management institutions, and of effective, dynamic links between them.
  • The widening and modernization of activities aimed at gathering and analyzing technical and scientific data about natural phenomena for decision making.
  • The establishment of modern monitoring and early warning systems for natural and man-made disasters.
  • The development of a risk reduction policy to be incorporated into national and sectoral development plans, strategies, and projects.
  • The strengthening of local risk management capacity.

Launching the Quinquennium

In December 1999, CEPREDENAC’s Board approved the first year of Quinquennium activities, which were officially launched on 15 March 2000 in San Salvador.

The programmed activities include:

  • Establishment of a Regional Political and Scientific Committee.
  • Establishment of a Consortium of National and International Institutions to promote the Quinquennium.
  • Development and dissemination of posters, documents, and other materials.
  • Fund-raising to promote Quinquennium activities.
  • Establishment of a Quinquennium Web Site.
  • Establishment of a public information campaign involving print and electronic media.
  • Organizing drawing contests on disaster prevention and mitigation themes at local schools through the region.
  • Promoting research and dissertations on disaster prevention and mitigation.

Recent Activities

The Quinquennium was launched by the Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs, María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila. The Salvadoran ministers of Agriculture, Public Works, Public Health and Social Assistance, and the Environment also participated, as did foreign diplomats and representatives of organizations such as the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) , the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the Humanitarian Office of the European Union (ECHO); and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

After the official event, a workshop was held for all participant organizations to discuss the Quinquennium’s objectives and exchange information about plans, projects and programs for disaster reduction in the region. The result was the establishment of a preliminary Regional Matrix of Projects.

Over the past four months, CEPREDENAC has also been involved in supporting other regional sectors in preparing their Strategic Vulnerability Reduction Plans. The first strategies, which have yet to be approved by the Foreign Ministries of the region, are for the transport sector and the Central American Security Council.

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