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


The Internet and Complex Emergencies

How the Internet has become the main source of information about health and
displacement in Colombia.

The PAHO/WHO project for internally displaced people in Colombia started in 1998. Its main goal is to contribute to improving the response capacity of the health sector to address to the needs of displaced and vulnerable populations to disaster situations and complex emergencies. PAHO/WHO has 7 field offices with the purpose of providing technical assistance in places with larger numbers of displaced populations. One of the most successful tools used by this project used is webpage entitled “Health and Displacement” which has been working for 5 continuous years:

This website was created based on two initiatives. The first one was developed to address the need for improving information available on Colombia. The second one was an initiative established by PAHO called HINAP –a project dealing with general health indicators for managing emergency situations. HINAP has operated since 1998 and is continuously growing in an effort to improve information posted on the Internet regarding health and displacement related issues.

From the beginning, the main goal of this virtual space has been to seek and provide information to a number of actors involved in health issues. It has also served as a forum for exchanging and disseminating data at the disposal of all counterparts working on health and displacement.As the website counter shows, the number of users has increasingly grown, not only to visit the homepage itself but also to see reference material, documents published or links to full texts. For example, in 2003, the website was visited by 220,502 users. This webpage is updated with documents obtained from different actors - including the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, the Avre Corporation (an NGO that works with mental health issues), Mencoldes, CHF, CICR, y ALCONPAZ (an NGO that works in Sandander), among others-, as well as reports and technical documents from both the PAHO/WHO office and its field offices. It is worth mentioning that information is also gathered from national and international NGOs working on this issues, government bodies and UN agencies.

The following are some of the messages that we have received from our readers and users:

“This is an excellent webpage. Primarily, it is a clear instrument that allows public and private institutions, the academic sector and international organizations that work on projects dealing with displacement, to have access to first-hand, quality information that may support the response of the State and society at large to this problem. If the number of citizens aware of these issues, projects, and data increases, we will contribute to making this work easier, and controlling programs and resources allocated to those populations affected (displaced people and other recipients).”
José Lucio Robles
Head of the Health Department for Displaced People– Ministry of Health

“I would like to congratulate you because the information that you share is very useful for those of us who work in the area of psychological assistance at the community level.”
Douglas Mojica.

“I wish to congratulate you because it is a website that includes different types of information on displaced populations. As the Coordinator in Guatemala of the Program for Displaced People, Refugees and Returnees in Central America (PRODERE Guatemala – Ixi Areal), I work closely on this issue.”
Juan Polo Huacacolqui

For further information please contact:
Juan Carlos Diaz