Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Approaches for Risk Management
time to restate some institutional roles for disaster prevention and mitigation
has come. Without implying that this date represents a rigid line of before
and after, September 2001 allowed for the emergence of an
abrupt signal that warned us about the need to redefine our thoughts.
This changing process -which was evident long before this date, inexorably
involves those organizations related to life protection.
Along these lines,
there exists the need to redefine the functioning of Emergency Management
Units, as well as Commissions or Committees for Risk Prevention and Civil
Defense or Protection. In other words, we must change their organizational
culture, since a new risk management approach is being developed. What
was once based on governmental management must now include new actors
from different fields. Ineludibly, communities and peoples, and their
will, ideas and creativity, as well as their hope, must be incorporated
into this process.
technological hazards and a number of actions resulting from both nature
and human behavior must be managed differently, engaging the population
in a more direct manner. There exists an updated range of threats, which
embryonic stage has run its course and now they are being introduced to
society in a very cruel, almost sadistic manner. Communities must participate
in the management of these hazards of anthropic nature and, by doing so,
they must bring down old charts and discontinue previous work and management
schemes. Currently, the population demands security, but security
is just a term that emerges from prevention.
bodies must incorporate representatives from other institutions, NGOs,
universities, foundations, research centers, neighbor associations, rescue
and emergency networks, among others, but particularly formal education
and broadcasting means.
is the task to be carried out. It is not that relevant to know how many
self-proclaimed power levels there exist, which, by the way,
have contributed to increasing bureaucracy among these bodies. Currently,
important levels must be related to decision-making, energy, horizontal
and team-oriented processes and projects. In other words, these levels
do not include those hierarchies that often hinder our perceptions. This,
however, does not mean that operational leadership has been eliminated,
but this type of management represents neither stardom nor
a new means to centralize power. We are now referring to more humanitarian
organizations in the context of a new world, which focuses more in people
than in objects.
This may be titled
Risk Management Democratization, which will allow for the inclusion
of all sectors of society towards a consensual goal. Consensus will be
reached only through dynamic management. New settings have emerged, in
which we must implement tactics and strategies aimed at minimizing the
conse-quences of new technological hazards.
There exists a number
of plans, programs and projects waiting for implementation, while some
others have not produced positive outcomes. What is important to highlight
is the fact that, in the context of these new conditions that threaten
humanity, it is essential that every preventive action be supported by
the commitment of the inhabitants of every region. The population at large
must participate in this projects, jointly with those in charge of guiding
them, in order to optimize prevention-mitigation processes.
We must start from
the fact that we all are part of prevention. We must not wait
for organization or public officials to repeatedly tell us how to protect
our houses from possible floods or any other threats or hazards. Motivation,
education and stimulus will allow for raising awareness of such risks
and how to reduce them. This will be possible by starting a bottom-up
mainstreaming process and by being appropriately assisted and informed.
All this will enable us to contribute with our ideas, creativity and new
approaches. Community participation will not be effective if organizations
related to risk prevention and emergency management do not oversee the
following components in an appropriate manner :
order to work harder and reduce our vulnerability towards disasters, our
institutions must review the functioning of all these components and,
as stated before, foster a real cultural-organizational change. Currently,
each government body, enterprise or NGO must ask themselves how to make
progress. We must find a way to address the lack or deficiency of preventive
New attitudes must
come from the grassroots and from people themselves, that is, from the
need of not being considered a number or a percentage,
part of a target group, the market or public
opinion, or the consumer, the user, or the
client among other similar designations. In the face of new
technological threats, something new is being developed: a new way of
seeing and implementing Risk Management.
By working together, beyond any difference that may exist, we will celebrate life, especially in a moment when the entire humankind has been profoundly hurt and needs to see the light and hold to their aspirations. Hopefully, we will be able to contribute with all our strength to this change, individually, in our own regions and at our work places, but thinking in plural, thinking of us.