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


Universities in the face of disasters

On June 23-26, 2003, a workshop entitled “Universities in the face of Disasters” was held in the city of Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina. The event was organized by the School of Health and Environment (ESSA) of the Comahue National University. Representatives of other universities were also invited, including the National University of Southern Patagonia (Santa Cruz), the National University of La Pampa (UNLP), the National Technological University (UTN) of Huincul Plaza, Neuquen; the National University of Cuyo (Mendoza), and especially the Regional UTN of Santa Fe, who referred to the recent and dramatic experience regarding the floods occurred in that region in April and May, 2003.

Another distinguished participant was Dr. Nelson Raúl Morales Soto, from the Greater University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru, who is also a consultant for PAHO/WHO, with the support of the Program for Emergencies and Disasters (PED). Along these lines, it is worth mentioning that PAHO/WHO provided this event with valuable technical cooperation.

The opening session was held at the Magna room of the Comahue National University, and included the participation of university authorities and Dr. Juan Manuel Sotelo (representative of PAHO/WHO in Argentina). Dr. Morales Soto addressed the participants and talked about "Disasters in America Latina". This conference was followed by a debate, which was also open to the community at large. On June 24, Mr. Rudy Grether, from UTN Santa Fe, presented on "the Tragedy of Floods" in that province. His presentation was also open to the public.

The main goal of this workshop was to “propose the incorporation of DISASTER related-issues into both under graduate and graduate curricula in national universities” establishing, for said reason, a comprehensive network.

After four days of working together (which included an entire session with health emergency teams from 10 local hospitals in the province of Neuquen), faculty members and researchers made the following recommendations:

• Promote the creation of the Disasters Unit at the Comahue National University, replicating this experience in other academic centers throughout the country;
• Strengthen the Regional Information Center on Disasters (CRISODE) of the Comahue National University, which was created in 1993. Its gradual transformation must be also planned, in the context of the South American reality and the current need to manage specialized information;
• Organize a Faculty Unit at the Comahue National University, made up of members of different sectors and organizations, in order to address issues related to risk prevention, emergencies and disasters;
• Design a project for articulating the health sector with other bodies concerned, with disaster preparedness and mitigation;
• Foster inter-disciplinary research on disasters and establish inter-institutional links to promote this area of study;
• Promote the holding of a workshop with national and/or private universities during 2004;
• Include the ad-hoc group already created in networks specialized in data and information on disasters (La Red de Estudios Sociales [Network for Social Studies], ISDR, the Pan-American Health Organization, etc.); and,
• Establish agreements with the Greater University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, in order to exchange faculty members and students, as well as information about emergencies and disaster related issues.