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

EIRD Global


Celebration of the World Disaster Reduction Day, 9 October, 2002

The theme of the 2002 World Disaster Reduction Campaign was linked to the International Year of Mountains. The main target audiences were the decision -makers in national and local governments, media and the educational systems. The ISDR Secretariat prepared and disseminated an information package targeted to press as well to relevant partners working in the area of mountain development and disaster reduction.

The ISDR also participated in several regional and international events organized in the context of the International Year of the Mountains to convey the disaster reduction message and highlight the need for increased disaster reduction measures in these vulnerable environments in order to protect their rich natural and cultural heritage and preserve their economic wealth and specific identity.

Several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean organized activities at the national or local level to celebrate the World Disaster Reduction Day on 9th October 2002. The following examples highlight some of the activities organized throughout the region.

Costa Rica

On October 9, the Commission on Occupational Health of the Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda (Housing Mortgage Bank) disseminated informational booklets on this campaign among its staff and posted related material on their boards, to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction.


Every year, the National Office for Emergencies, of the Ministry of Interior (ONEMI) marks October as the Civil Protection Month, which includes the observance of the IDDR. Throughout this month, a number of public activities are carried out to raise awareness of the measures needed to prevent disasters and emergency situations.

Along these lines, on October 29, the national workshop titled “Towards Sustainable Mountain Development through Disaster Reduction” was held. Approximately 100 representatives of the System for Civil Protection, ministries, the military, the Red Cross, the Scout Movement, and specialized bodies, among others, participated in this successful event, which culminated with a roundtable. As part of the conclusions, it was suggested that mountainous areas be considered part of continuing risk management processes. To that end, a protocol for working jointly with the Andean Rescue Team was signed.


Local radio stations broadcast information on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, in coordination with the Municipal Civil Protection Department and the Mexican Society of Emergency and Disaster Medicine. In addition, information sent by the ISRD was distributed among the population. Finally, 10 drills were carried out in different educational institutions, and preschool students were encouraged to participate in a drawing contest whose main theme was the 2002 World Disaster Reduction Campaign.

British Virgin Islands

Several activities were carried out by the Department of Disaster Management, to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. A news release was distributed to the media and government agencies, color posters related to the topic of the campaign were distributed to schools and government agencies for display, an official ceremony was held and an exhibition was organized.


CLAMED planned an event held at the Ministry of Public Health to celebrate this day. This activity gathered more than 50 participants, including delegates from the Ministry of Public Health, Civil Defense officials, municipal health directors, representatives of the East Havana Municipality’s Red Cross, a number of government bodies and non-governmental organizations, doctors and librarians from various municipalities of Havana. This event represented a valuable opportunity to submit a proposal for establishing the Latin American Network on Health and Disaster Information, as well as to introduce the radio drama series titled “Tiempo de Huracanes” (Times of Hurricanes), a joint initiative of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), in collaboration with the Coordination Center for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC).

The National Reference Center for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (PREMIDES)
As part of its activities, PREMIDES visited a number of schools to raise awareness among students and teachers regarding the importance of understanding the various aspects included in risk management. Language used during these lectures was adapted depending on the level of each audience or target group, and issues discussed included both threats and hazards, highlighting the particularities of each locality visited.

FACONS’ students and professors from the University of Camagüey, led by the Civil Engineering and Architecture Schools, carried out different activities to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

Among others, these activities included a special presentation aired on a local (Camagüey) TV station regarding the importance of the IDDR. Also, the show called “Al filo de la tarde” (At the end of the afternoon), broadcast by the provincial TV channel, hosted a program with children and teachers from the Grandes Alamedas Primary Boarding School.

In addition, the UC’s Construction and Economics Schools developed a community project called “Children supporting Disaster Reduction” at the Grandes Alamedas Primary School. Finally, the article “Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development”, along with the speech “Methodology for assessing Vulnerability and Risks in Mountain Roads”, was analyzed during an international activity titled “Architecture and Engineering serving the Environment.”


On October 9, the Resident Coordinator Office and the United Nations’ Disaster Management Team (UN-DMT) organized a panel entitled “Sustainable Development and Disaster Reduction” to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. This event focused on the measures required to reduce the vulnerability of society at large when coping with the socio-economic impacts caused by natural hazards. Participants included representatives of SNU, WFP, UNDP, UNICEF, VNU, the Government of Guatemala, SEGEPLAN, the Ministry of Public Health, Oxfam Great Britain, Gandara & Associates, World Vision and Care. Other attendees included delegates from the American Red Cross, the Guatemalan Red Cross, the Del Valle University, and the media, such as El Noticiero, El Telediario and Cerigua.


The exchange of experiences and a number of consultations led to the holding of a Forum titled “Government, the International Community and Civil Society together in Disaster Reduction.” The even took place in the context of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, and was coordinated by the Permanent Commission on Emergencies (COPECO) and the United Nations System.

Similarly, all institutions and bodies working in the field of risk management and handling emergencies caused by natural phenomena, joined efforts to raise awareness regarding the importance of sharing previous and current solutions to address vulnerability and risk reduction. This forum included a presentation on the government’s perception of disaster-related issues, including strategies, policies and actions. In this context, COPECO shared some of its experiences in recent emergencies, as well as various short-, mid- and long-term actions required to address these situations. In addition, UN representatives explained their role in disaster reduction and assistance in Honduras. Finally, the coordinator of the Municipal Emergency Committee of La Ceiba discussed the importance of both community organization and citizen participation.


Local and Regional Committees on Disaster Prevention and Response planned and carried out different activities between October 3-25. In Bogotá, the seminar titled “Risks and Emergency Preparedness in Events with Massive Flows of People” was held, while in Bucramanga and Barranquilla a workshop on disaster reduction and prevention took place. Similarly, in Ibague a certificate course in “Community Organization and Risk Management: Community Organizational Experiences in Emergency Responses” was taught. In Medellín, a regional workshop titled “Strategy for Strengthening Science, Technology and Education to Reduce Risks and Respond to Disasters” also took place. Furthermore, in Armenia, a number of educational activities were carried out to strengthen local and regional committees in the field of risk reduction, while in Popayán, a workshop on disaster prevention and response was carried out, and in Manizales training sessions on risk reduction were held. Finally, in Cucuta, the National System for Disaster Prevention and Response carried out an activity which focused on risk management, and in Huila, a seminar titled “Strengthening the Education Sector on Prevention and Disaster-related Issues” was held.

El Salvador

A press conference was organized in San Salvador by SICA and the Center for the Coordination of Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC), in collaboration with ISDR Secretariat, in order to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction. The Radio Drama “Times of Hurricanes” was also launched the same day and broadcast through 46 local radio station in Central America.


The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) observed the IDDR with three different activities. A press conference was convened to discuss issues related to the effects of heavy rains and floods caused by Tropical Storm Lili last September, as well as the scientific basis for the rise in the water level experienced, particularly in the area of New Market. Additionally, an exhibition was held at the Tom Redcam Library in St. Andrew, one of the largest libraries in Jamaica. This event was organized jointly with the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA), and the theme explored this year was related to both the International Year of Mountains and the Protection of Watersheds in Jamaica. Finally, a quiz on disasters was aired on Love 101 Radio, during the radio show called “Small People”. Three prizes were awarded to the winners.


In commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Civil Defense Department in Río Claro, Sao Paulo -jointly with the Brazilian company in charge of transporting natural gas between Brazil and Bolivia-, practiced a drill to be prepared for any pipeline breakdown. Among others, the main goal of this exercise was to assess the ability to respond to emergencies, as well as the capacity of the whole system to receive and transmit basic information on the event. This practice was also used to evaluate the level of operational integration of the transportation company, the Fire Department and the Civil Defense System in emergency situations. Additionally, the transportation company took this opportunity to review its emergency plan and integrate local and regional bodies into it.


In order to celebrate the IDDR, the Integrated Unit for Hydrographic Watershed Management in the Province of Jujuy, the Argentinean Institute of Water Resources, the National University of Jujuy, the National University of Plata and the Degli Studi Padova University, jointly with the Special Conference on Environmental Hazards in the Northeast Region, held a seminar titled “Dense Flows in Mountainous Areas”, on October 23-25. The main goal of this event was to assess the level of knowledge regarding dense gravitational flows in Argentina, as well as to make suggestions to conduct field activities and research, and develop strategies for managing watersheds in mountainous areas.