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



Costa Rican Geotechnics Association - 2nd Pan-American Course on Large Soil Movements

Under the slogan Knowledge and Information: The Pillars of Prevention, and with the sponsorship of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering and the Association of Civil Engineers of Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Geotechnics Association hosted the 2nd Pan-American Course on Large Soil Movements on 6-10 November 2000 in San José, Costa Rica. The first course was held in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Conceived as a continuing forum for the up-to-date discussion of the subject, the course trains participants to handle landslides and other large soil movement problems, including such aspects as geological conditions, modeling, geotechnical characterization of materials, movement analysis, stabilization techniques, instrumentation, associated costs, and prevention and mitigation measures.

Prestigious academics from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, and the United States imparted the course. In addition, a round table was held on Risk Management in a Culture of Prevention, with the participation of the Central American Center for Disaster Prevention (CEPREDENAC), the Costa Rican Emergency Prevention and Response Commission, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

Attendants came from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, and Peru. They presented case histories from their own countries, enriching the contents of the course with the exchange of experiences and challenges.

A visit to the city of Puriscal (10,000 inhabitants) made it possible to see one of Costa Rica’s largest landslides, and one of the best studied by geologists and geotechnical engineers.

The event’s co-sponsors included UNISDR, the government-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute, the University of Costa Rica, CEDEX from Spain, GEOTEST, INSUMA, INGEOTEC, SETECOOP, BEL Ingeniería, Macafferi Central America, SNC-LAVALIN, INCSA, the TACA Airline Group, the Costa Rican Ministry of Science and Technology and National Council of Science and Technology Research, GEOKON, the Sánchez Carvajal Construction Company, CFIA and the Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance of the US Agency for International Development (USAID-OFDA).

The Costa Rican Geotechnics Association expressed its gratitude to all sponsors, without whom the event could not have been held.

For more information, please contact:
Marco Valverde, Presidente
Asociación Costarricense de Geotecnia
Tel (506) 234-8789 Fax (506) 253-5564

Disaster prevention Program
Ministry of Education, Peru

Division of Pedagogic Management
Integral Prevention Programs Directorate

The Disaster Prevention Program (DPP) of the Ministry of Education of Peru is a set of actions that prepare the educational community to face and overcome emergency or disaster situations by instilling preventive attitudes and skills. The program is relatively new within the Ministry, but it has already raised a great deal of expectations.

The objectives of the DPP are the following:

  • To promote a culture of disaster prevention throughout the national education system.
  • To reduce the vulnerability of the education community to natural or manmade hazards.
  • To train teachers of the various educational levels about the hazards in their locality and how to reduce risk.
  • To promote the development of preventive behavior among the student population through formal education.

The strategies employed in the program include the incorporation of disaster prevention awareness and competencies in the curriculum, and the provision of specialized training for the teachers involved in curricular development.
Other components include emergency planning, organizing civil defense brigades among the staff and students, the carrying out of drills, the identification of escape routes and safe areas in school facilities, the provision of basic security equipment, and the production of print and audiovisual educational materials aimed at encouraging a positive response to emergencies.

Over the past year, the DPP was launched with the acquisition and distribution of emergency equipment, the execution of vulnerability assessments of school facilities, the carrying out of four school drills, and the development of an emergency earthquake response plan for the headquarters of the Ministry of Education.

A workshop was held for the instructors of the National School Safety Course (CUSE, in Spanish). In 2001, several school safety workshops will be held in selected cities.
Also for 2001: the production of an educational video on emergency and disaster preparedness and response actions in school facilities, the publication of disaster prevention booklets for students, and the choice of disaster prevention as the subject of the Seventh School Art Contest on the Benefits of Mining, Oil, and Energy.

Disaster Preparedness Management
Advanced Regional Training Programme
San Jose, Costa Rica, 2001

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (ASDI) is the government agency given the task to plan and administer Sweden’s bilateral cooperation programmes with developing countries. The programme is being administrated under the management of SSPA Sweden AB. Local host for the programme is the Central American School of Geology at the University of Costa Rica. The final schedule will be organised by the programme management together with invited lecturers and local organisations. To cover the different themes of the programme, invited lecturers will be a well balanced mixture of local, regional and international experts.

The purpose of this training programme is to provide the participants with applicable insights and knowledge of preparedness planning, emergency response and reconstruction from natural disasters. The programme is focused on institutional strengthening and capacity building to increase the preparedness, and thereby, mitigate the impacts of natural disaster events. Holistic understanding, local applicability, and long-term perspective are keywords that will be emphasised.

The five-week training programme will take place at University of Costa Rica, San Jose, and is divided into two parts during 2001. Part I February 19- March 9 and Part 2 April 23- May 4.

The programme is designed for participants holding positions as technical managers and senior officers involved in emergency preparedness planning through community planning, environmental protection, legislation, contingency planning, energy, transportation, industries, and rescue services.

English will be the official language the programme. No interpretation services will be provided.

For more information contact:
SSPA Sweden AB
Infrastructure Development
Attn: Per Danielsson
PO Box 24001
SE-400 22 Göteborg Sweden
Tel (46 31) 772-9000
Fax (46 31) 772-9124
University of Costa Rica
Central American School of Geology
Rolando Mora

Health and Disasters in University Education in Central America

The Central American Commission on University Education on Disasters

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), through its Program on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief (PED), has been making an effort to promote the inclusion of health and disasters in the curricula of universities. As part of this initiative, in the mid 1990s, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama established the Central American Commission on University Education on Disasters.

National Commissions were also set up, and over the past few years they have developed and executed a curricular module as well as courses and research projects on such issues as planning for local health systems, sanitary administration, epidemiological surveillance, mental health, medical emergencies and others from a disaster prevention perspective.

Annual Meeting, Panama, November 2000

On 20 and 21 November 2000, PAHO helped to organize the Fifth Meeting of the Central American Commission in Panama City. Participants included the Coordinators of the National Commissions as well as Panamanian professors who work in the field of health and disasters.

During the meeting, participants strengthened their links with each other and with other bodies, such as the Regional Disaster Information Center (CRID) and the Central American Coordination Center for Disaster Prevention (CEPREDENAC). They also agreed to a set of bylaws, and Panama was chosen as the Regional Seat of the Commission for 2001.

Representatives of the National Commissions discussed priorities for 2001, based on the recommendations of a research project carried out in October on how disaster issues are treated in Central America’s medical schools and what the chief opportunities and obstacles are in the pursuit of the Commission’s goals. The findings will be made available at the Health and Disasters in Central America Web site, which is produced by PAHO, CRID, and FUNDESUMA (

For more information please contact:

Laura de Thomas
Coordinadora Regional de la Comisión para la Educación Universitaria p/ Desastres
Universidad de Panamá, Ciudad Panamá
Tel. (507) 223-6355 / 676-7066

Pablo Guzmán
Coordinador Nacional de la Comisión Universitaria p/Desastres en Costa Rica
Universidad de Ciencias Médicas Andrés Vesalio Guzmán
San José, Costa Rica
Tel. (506) 232-1330 / 231-4368

René Urroz Alvarez
Coordinador Nacional de la Comisión
Universitaria p/Desastres en Nicaragua
Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios de la Salud (CIES)
Managua, Nicaragua
Tel. (505) 278-3700 / 278-4383

Francisco Mauricio Ferrer
Coordinador Nacional de la Comisión
Universitaria p/Desastres en El Salvador
Comité de Emergencia Nacional
San Salvador, El Salvador
Tel. (503) 271-1280 / 281-0888

Marco A. de León Cano
Coordinador Nacional de la Comisión
Universitaria p/Desastres en Guatemala
Facultad de Ciencias Médicas
Universidad de Guatemala, Guatemala Ciudad
Tel. (502) 476-4311 / 594-7946

Wilfredo Domínguez
Coordinador Nacional de la Comisión
Universitaria p/Desastres en Honduras
Facultad Medicina UNAH
Tel. (504) 239 1977

Jacqueline Flentge
Oficina Subregional para América Central
PED/OPS, San José Costa Rica
Tel. 506 221 9297

Hi folks, thank you for disseminating the existence of our web-site!

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with the Regional Center for Information on Disasters (CRID) and FUNDESUMA are carrying out the Project “Vulnerability Reduction and Disasters Preparedness in the countries affected by Hurricane Mitch”.

For your information a website has been prepared, called “Health and Disasters in Central America” that will continuously follow the development of the project.

You will be welcome to visit the site!