Estrategia Internacional para la Reducción de Desastres
América Latina y el Caribe  

Revista EIRD Informa - América Latina y el Caribe
Número:13 -2006 -12/2006 - 11-/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001 - 2/2000 - 1/2000

Socios en Acción


civil defense institute:
Building a culture of prevention through education and training

One of the objectives of the Peruvian National Disaster prevention and Response Plan is to build a culture of
prevention by

• Enabling citizens to respond effectively to a disaster;

• Raising their awareness of the importance of preserving and acting in harmony with nature as the single most significant way of preventing disasters; and

• Ensuring they have the necessary knowledge and know-how to participate responsibly and effectively in any community rehabilitation and reconstruction effort.

It is the conviction of the Peruvian National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) that a culture of prevention can only be attained by educating and training the population on disaster prevention in such a way that the basic principles of democratic coexistence are reinforced. Building a culture of prevention—an essential part of the development of any society—must be based on the promotion of values such as self-reliance, solidarity, participation, and respect for oneself and others. Any educational or training project aimed at building a culture of prevention must focus not only on developing individual skills, but also social and interactive skills, as well as a shared commitment to the natural and cultural environment.

We at INDECI believe that what is needed is not just education for a culture of prevention, but an education in such a culture. It is not a question of teaching yet another subject by rote, conveying certain information that may be more or less familiar to its intended audience. What is needed is to engage in a collective endeavor that will gradually yield a new, dynamic conception of the individual as immersed in a sea of relationships, kept afloat by the dignity and respect for the fundamental rights of all.

Reaching such a goal may take many forms. One of them is formal education. From this point of view, the educational act is that which produces a transformation in its recipients, profoundly influencing the way they perceive reality, interpret, and respond to it.

INDECI’s National Education and Training Directorate has designed a set of educational principles and content guidelines, in line with the new Peruvian educational model, aimed at contributing to the construction of a culture of prevention from the very earliest years of formal education. This new approach strives to:

• Build the foundations of a preventive approach;

• Re-evaluate and reinforce the role of students, educators and parents in their own development; and

• Incorporate civil defense facts, values and attitudes into the early years, primary and secondary curricula, as well as adult education, teacher’s education, and higher education.

At the university level, INDECI is painfully aware of the country’s urgent need for specialists in the field of disaster management.

• The National Civil Defense System (SINADECI) desperately needs qualified professionals to improve its administrative and executive performance. Cooperation agreements have been signed with several national universities to provide the following products, designed and promoted by INDECI:

• University outreach courses on disaster prevention and response.

• Postgraduate degrees and technical courses in disaster management and sustainable development.

Both initiatives strive to take advantage of universities’ installed capacity to support the private and public sectors and organized civil society in facilitating research, capacity building, and disaster prevention and response services. This calls for a partnership among the scientific and academic community, policy makers in the public and private sectors, implementing agencies and the national and international community.

The Outreach courses aim to reach current and future technicians and professionals in disaster-related fields who wish to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to design risk-assessment and disaster-prevention plans and programs.

The technical courses strive to produce specialists who can identify hazards and provide vulnerability reduction services to communities at risk, while the postgraduate component focuses on building research and design skills for creating, adapting and implementing disaster prevention, mitigation and response programs at the national, regional and international level.

All these educational efforts will focus on alleviating the suffering caused by catastrophic events and establishing the conditions for a politically, economically and environmentally sustainable development by incorporating such topics as:

• Governance;

• Sustainable development planning;

• Disaster management;

• Environmental protection;

• Practical research skills;

• Vulnerability of educational, health and productive systems; and

• Methods engineering.

INDECI is fully aware of the importance of technical and scientific inputs for education and training at all levels. It believes the best way of disseminating such information is to promote the establishment of both traditional and online libraries and information centers and clearinghouses.

We have, accordingly, set the goal of creating the National Scientific and Technological Information Center on Disaster Prevention and Response. Its objectives will be:

• Encouraging theoretical and applied research;

• Encouraging the exchange of experiences, lessons learned,
success stories, and best practices; and

• Establishing Web sites and other online systems for the exchange of information at the national and international level.

As part of this goal, INDECI is collaborating closely with the Regional Disaster Information Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRID) and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) in the design and setting up of this National Center.

For the Peruvian National Civil Defense Institute, a culture of prevention can only succeed if it views hazards and vulnerabilities systemically, with all of their economic, political, cultural and social dimensions.

For more information contact:
Martha Giraldo Limo
University Program Coordinator
National Education and Training Directorate
Peruvian National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI)