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

Global ISDR


Latin America and the Caribbean Celebrating the
International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
10 October 2001

This year, the theme of ISDR’s annual World Disaster Reduction Campaign is “Countering Disasters; Targeting Vulnerability”. The campaign’s objective is to provide practical examples of the measures that can be taken to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, drought, or landslides.

The 2001 Campaign has also focused on three sub-themes:

• The Role of Science and Technology in Disaster Reduction
• Building Disaster-Resistant Infrastructure
• Mobilizing Local Communities in Reducing Disasters.

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign is a year-long event. It culminates with the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. The United Nations agreed to set aside the second Wednesday of October of every year to underscore the importance of disaster reduction around the world. This year, the day was celebrated on 10 October with the presentation in Geneva of the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction to the Global Fire Monitoring Centre (GFMC), Fire Ecology Research Group, Max Planck Institute of Freiburg University, Germany, for its outstanding work in the field of wildfire prevention.

In Trujillo, Peru, the Secretariat of the Hemispheric Action Plan for Vulnerability Reduction in the Education Sector to Socio-Natural Disasters (EDUPLAN) organized activities for the North of the country, particularly Huaraz, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura, and Amazonas. A World Meeting of School Children brought together schoolchildren from all over the world to discuss disaster reduction and radio communications.

The Ministry of Education and the National Civil Defence Institute (INDECI) organized four school emergency drills between 31 May and 11 October. In the Arequipa region, a massive training campaign was aimed at raising awareness of practical measures to reduce the impact of disasters.

On 10 October, an earthquake simulation was carried out based on an event of 7 on the Richter Scale with its epicentre 20 km off the coast in the district of Ancón. The the population of Lima and nearby Callao participated in the exercise.

In order to celebrate the World Day for Disaster Reduction, the Civil Defense Unit of Rio Claro, Sao Paulo, organized a number of training sessions related to the topics of the World Campaign for Disaster Reduction.

On 10 October, the Ministry of Education’s Emergency and Disaster Commission organized a seminar and workshop in the Department (Province) of Durazno with the support of the United States Agency for International Development’s Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the National Emergency System, and the local government. School children, community leaders and the media all took part in the event.


To celebrate International Disaster Reduction Day, the Argentinean School of Relief and Rescue Techniques organized a drill at the Schweitzer School in Mar del Plata. Its interdisciplinary academic staff organized the event.

The Faculty of Construction of the University of Camagüey organized a National Workshop on Defense Preparedness Disciplines to share experiences in this field and to commemorate the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

El Salvador
Two activities were held in El Salvador on 10 October: a local one, in Cara Sucia, Ahuacha-pán, and a national-level event in San Salvador. The local activity consisted of awarding prices in a painting contest for all schools in the municipality, and a talk by the municipal disaster manager on the importance of preserving natural resources to prevent and mitigate disasters. Members of the community sang songs they had written themselves on disaster prevention and acted in a play on how floods destroy lives and property. In San Salvador, the Ministry of Health organized an event on Risk Management for all health personnel.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s National Risk Prevention and Emergency Response Commission (CNE), the country’s focal point for disaster reduction, celebrated the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction by organizing a Basic Community Exercise in Disaster Preparedness. It involved an evacuation drill based on the likelihood of the Reventado River flooding and causing a mudslide affecting the communities of Tierra Blanca, Linda Vista, María Auxiliadora, and Barrio Nuevo, near the old Costa Rican capital of Cartago, and a fire drill in neighbouring Barrio Miraflores and Dique Río Reventado. The successful exercise, which lasted 70 minutes, enjoyed the support of the United Nations System, local emergency committees, first response agencies, evaluators, monitors, direct and indirect observers and the mass media.

In addition, a poster was designed to reinforce a campaign to reduce the impact of earthquakes, which CNE launched on that same day.

Furthermore, the Inter-Institutional Emergency Commission, of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), organized a forum titled: “The Role of the Media in disseminating Information on Disaster and Responding to Emergencies”. Representatives from the National Emergency Commission and the Municipality of San Jose, as well as the Director of the UCR’s School of Communications, a participant from the National Meteorological Institute and a newscaster from a local TV channel were brought together on this occasion.

The World Day for Disaster Reduction, the Health Secretariat of Honduras, and the Municipalities of Alianza, Marcovia and Choluteca, organized an activity that represented a valuable opportunity for Local Committees for Health Emergency (COLES) to present on their current work, their risk maps and issues learned during a first aid course taught by the Health Secretariat.

Representatives from the communities of Sedeño, Monjarás, Los Llanitos, El Cubulero and El Conchal participated in this activity, as well as staff members from the Health and Education Departments, COPECO, the Red Cross, the Green cross, firefighters, mayor candidates and the media.

On 17 August, the municipality of Moyogalpa on Ometepe island, one of the must vulnerable in Nicaragua, celebrated for the first time Municipal Disaster Prevention Day. Since November 2000, the entire population of Moyogalpa has been involved in training, organization and awareness-raising for disaster prevention, thanks to a joint program by the Pan-American Health Organization and World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, local authorities and community leaders, among others.

Moyogalpa’s inhabitants showed off their knowledge of disaster reduction by producing 15 parade floats on the subject. A jury selected the three floats that best conveyed the message of disaster prevention by handing out awards ranging from US$700 to US$300. The award money was spent entirely on projects to reduce the vulnerability of the community.

An event aimed at raising awareness about disasters was carried out in the Municipality of Florida, Cauca Valley. Issues addressed and the number of participants are as follow:

Disasters and the educational system (70 high school students); what are disasters?  (70 high school students); communities coping with disasters (50 community representatives); earthquake resistant buildings (40 construction workers); organization in case of disasters (50 EMS workers), emergency drills (representatives from relief institutions), and closing and acknowledgements.

At the same time, institutional material related to these issues was displayed, allowing the community to be aware of a number of bodies that deal with disaster prevention and management from different perspectives and approaches.

Furthermore, the two local TV stations of this municipality, showed movies related to disasters, such as “A thousand heroes at rescue”, “Volcano” and “Fireball”, while radio stations broadcast a series of programs during the entire day of this event.