Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Partners in Action
Global Earthquake Safety Initiative (GESI)
As the world economy grows, urban areas are rapidly increasing in size, especially in developing nations. These cities are in a unique position to make decisions that can greatly affect their vulnerability to future risk from natural disasters. To implement successful development plans and ensure sustainability of the development process, cities must be able to assess their risk from natural disasters, predict future risk patterns with and without mitigation efforts, and track the long-term success of efforts that have been undertaken. The Global Earthquake Safety Initiative (GESI) was developed to meet these needs, offering cities access to information that is necessary to begin the process of addressing urban earthquake safety.
In January 2000, GeoHazards International (GHI) and the Disaster Management Planning Office of the United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD) started the Global Earthquake Safety Initiative (GESI) to develop a mechanism to promote earthquake risk management in developing countries. This mechanism, a methodology to measure relative urban earthquake risk, would promote risk management in cities of developing nations by raising awareness, both locally and internationally, of their earthquake risk and by suggesting possible measures to reduce that risk. Information provided by GESI should assist community leaders and decision makers in measuring trends in risk over time, identifying effective risk mitigation options, and understanding what has or has not worked in similar cities.
The first phase of the GESI project had the participation of twenty-one cities from around the world in its eighteen-month duration.
wanted to promote local involvement in risk management. The project was
community-based, as the participants were local specialists from diverse
organizations, including government agencies, universities, non-governmental
organizations and private companies. They were responsible for collecting
the data and participating on a local advisory committee that gave advice
on how the project results could be used most effectively in their city.
The cities participating in the first stage of GESI were:
Two regional workshops
were held to evaluate the first phase of GESI, determine the usefulness
of the project, and solicit recommendations on how the initiative should
be continued in the future. Representatives from participating cities,
international organizations and international technical experts were invited
and asked to evaluate the project in working group discussion sessions.
The fist regional symposium was held in Kobe, Japan, for the Asian and
European cities participating in GESI, and the second one was held in
Quito, Ecuador, for the Latin American cities.
The evaluation of the first phase of GESI seems to indicate that the methodology is successful in being an inexpensive and rapid assessment that produces valid and reasonable results. Representatives of the participating cities indicated that the implementation of GESI contributed to an increased awareness of the existing risk, generated interaction among the local institutions, and promoted coordination of risk management activities and programs. For the continuation of GESI, the inclusion of more cities in the study has been suggested as well as the periodic repetition of the project in order to monitor progress.