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


Reducing the Vulnerability of the Transport
Sector to Natural Hazards

Organization of American States (OAS)
Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE)

Since 1983, the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has been assisting countries and sectors in reducing the vulnerability of their population and social and economic infrastructure. Starting in 1992, it has collaborated with the Coordination Centre for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC) in preparing and implementing disaster reduction programmes for the social and productive sectors of the Central American isthmus.

In 2000, USDE/OAS began executing a project on the Reduction of the Vulnerability of the Road Transportation System to Natural Hazards in Central America with the financial support of the Office of Emergency Transportation of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). The project consists of the three following activities:

1. General Assessment of the Stretches of the Pan-American Highway and its Complementary Corridors that Are Vulnerable to Natural Hazards in Central America

The objective of this assessment is to collect and present information on the stretches of the Pan-American Highway and its alternative or complementary corridors that face natural hazards. The current state of the Highway will be assessed, as will the history of the disasters that have befallen it, those natural hazards that threaten it, how long the vulnerable stretches are, and which actions must be taken to reduce vulnerability. USDE/OAS is supporting a systematic follow-up and update process for national assessments.

2. Assistance Mechanisms for Damage and Vulnerability Reduction of the Transportation Sector Infrastructure in Central America in the Face of Natural Disasters

In order to facilitate cooperation in the rehabilitation of the transportation infrastructure affected by natural hazards, a working document was produced on Assistance Mechanisms for Damage and Vulnerability Reduction of the Transportation Sector Infrastructure in Central America in the Face of Natural Disasters.

The document describes the essential and critical components of Central America’s transportation infrastructure that are vulnerable to natural phenomena and the goods and services required and available in the region to provide this assistance. It also examines regional and international mutual assistance mechanisms. Possible options to improve existing mechanisms are also examined, as are ways of improving mutual assistance within the region and with the international community. Finally, the document defined those issues that require additional research.

At present, USDE/OAS is following up on the implementation of mutual assistance and vulnerability reduction actions as identified in the working paper. Round tables were held with the participation of national and regional institutions involved in the transportation sector, both public and private, and various alternatives were discussed for implementing the suggested actions. The participants, USDE/OAS and CEPREDENAC agreed on an implementation plan.

3. Course on the Use of Natural Hazard Information in the Formulation and Assessment of Investment Projects in the Transportation Sector

USDE/OAS and USDOT, with the collaboration of the Central American Commission on Marine Transport (COCATRAM) and the Central American Institute of Public Administration (ICAP), held a course on the Use of Information on Natural Hazards in the Formulation and Assessment of Investment Projects in the Road Transportation Sector. The course, which also involved the participation of CEPREDENAC and the Central American Secretariat for Economic Integration (SIECA) , was held on 2-6 October 2000 in San José, Costa Rica.

As follow-up, USDE/OAS will continue to advise CEPREDENAC, COCATRAM, SIECA and the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services (COCESNA) on the development and implementation of other courses related to other sub-sectors of transportation.

Other Activities in Central America and Latin America

USDE/OAS is continually cooperating with the Latin American Society of Environmental Units of the Transportation Sector (SLUAT) and is currently revising its methodological contributions to the Hemispheric Guide to the Environmental Management of Road Transportation Corridors, so that it can be enriched and implemented by Environmental Units, Ministries of Transport and other agencies for the improved environmental management of road transportation corridors.

The Unit has also created a Programme for Research and Training on the Development of Trade Corridors (PROCORREDOR), which involves regional research and training projects to advise governments, consult the private sector, and prepare the next generation of specialists on the development of trade corridors.
There are PROCORREDOR Collaborating Centres in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. These Centres represented PROCORREDOR at the Hemispheric Conference on Reducing the Vulnerability of Trade Corridors to Socio-Natural Disasters, held in Mendoza, Argentina, in March 2001.

The Conference, organized and convened by USDE, brought together representatives of such sectors as agriculture, energy, transportation, engineering, science, risk management, emergency management and international development. They will prepare an investment, training, research and technology transfer programme for reducing the vulnerability of trade corridors to disasters.

For more information:
Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment of OAS (UDSMA/OAS)