Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Towards the formulation of an Andean Strategy for disaster prevention and response
Since December 2003, the General Secretariat of the Andean Community, with the support of the UNDP Bureau for Crisis and Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), has been working on a project for the formulation of a Disaster Prevention and Response Strategy (DPR) in the region, which includes Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.
This Andean Strategy –which will be submitted to the Andean Presidential Council in July 2004 for approval, will become a sub-regional policy tool and a plan of action for developing disaster prevention and response programs in this area.
This Strategy includes, as national counterparts, a number of institutions that constitute the Andean Committee for Disaster Prevention and Assistance (CAPRADE), an advisory body created in 2001 by Decision 529. In this manner, CAPRADE includes representatives from national planning authorities and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. In the case of Colombia, a representative from the Office for Disaster Prevention and Response, within the Ministry of the Interior, is also included. The project has been developed based on other existing initiatives at both national and regional levels, such as PREANDINO, which is being fostered by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).
Goals of the DPR Andean Strategy
The Andean Strategy for Disaster Prevention and Response will promote the development of prevention and preparedness programs, the strengthening of policies and institutions in each country, and the creation of synergies with similar international programs. Bearing in mind that these five countries share common risks, it has been suggested that working in an integrated manner could help improve their capacity in major areas such as risk knowledge, development planning, risk management, preparedness and response in emergency situations, and risks in bordering areas, watersheds and other regions of shared interest.
One of the major characteristics of this strategy is the advancement of working agendas for development sectors, which although traditionally isolated from risk related issues, are important to address these problems. Among these sectors, it is worth mentioning roads and traffic, agriculture, power, water and basic sanitation, as well as those that, traditionally, have been considered essential such as health, land use, and housing.
Another important feature of this Andean strategy is the efforts devoted to set up sub-regional and international agendas, particularly in social and environmental fields, as well as development policies in bordering areas, as they also include converging points.
Process for formulating this strategy
The process for formulating this strategy began in December 2003 and will end during the first quarter of 2004. The project will allow for the establishment of a strategy reached by consensus in this sub-region, which will be submitted to CAPRADE on May 4. Subsequently, this strategy will be analyzed by both the Andean Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers and the Andean Presidential Council.
In order to establish this Andean strategy,
each country has held working meetings and national workshops with national
bodies involved in risk-related issues. The process at large has gathered
some 560 officials from these five countries, representing 282 bodies,
particularly at the national level.
In 1999, the governments of the Central American countries, the Dominican Republic and Belize signed the Declaration of Guatemala II, by which a Strategic Framework for Vulnerability and Disaster Reduction in Central America was established, as well as a five-year period for vulnerability and disaster impact reduction in the region during 2000-2004.
This Regional Forum, entitled Mitch + 5, was carried out in Honduras on December 9-11, with the purpose of reiterating the commitments established five years ago through the Strategic Framework for Vulnerability Reduction, signed during the 20th Summit of Central American Presidents, held in Guatemala in 1999. This framework has been promoted by the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC), with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission (ECHO), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Southern Commando, the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the governments of Mexico and Taiwan, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and CARE, among others.
The Forum gathered more than 350 delegates
from both civil society and governments, and resulted from a participatory
process developed in each country, aimed at discussing the status of disaster
reduction. Along these lines, Mitch + 5 represented an opportunity for
participating countries to submit their national reports and present on
the steps taken to improve disaster reduction, as well as on the main
challenges faced in the region.
I. Process for Report Preparation and National Forums:
Between August and November 2003, the Central American countries started their national processes aimed at:
• Achieving institutional and technical
To this end, each country named national coordinators and communication focal points.
1. Ground documents for this forum: A number of reference documents and guides were prepared, which supported national processes:
1) Guides to prepare national reports
2. National Reports: Substantive parts of these national processes were based on the guides and according to 4 thematic components and 5 aspects and goals. These reports were presented during the Regional Forum.
3. National forums: These were part of the national processes and represented a common ground for government institutions, civil society, the private sector, national and international bodies, and cooperation agencies. The drafts of national reports were presented during these forums in order to complement existing information, and generate conclusions, recommendations and goals for these documents.
Based on these reports per country and the discussions held in thematic working groups, the Regional Forum was able to show:
The level of awareness in the region regarding the need to reduce existing
It was recognized that, in spite of the progress made, a number of hindrances and weaknesses still remain, particularly related to the implementation of the abovementioned strategic framework, existing vulnerability levels and, as stated by the World Disaster Report, increasing poverty levels in the region, social disintegration and insecurity, inadequate natural resource management, environmental degradation, and the disorganized growth of human settlements.
• Review and update the Strategic
Most participants agreed that is very important to lay emphasis on disaster reduction within public and private investment programs, and consider it a cross-cutting issue to be addressed in development programs and land use plans. In addition, it is imperative to adapt existing laws and provisions in order to reduce disasters at local, national and regional levels. Participants also mentioned that it is essential to systematize best practices and experiences to constitute a common information source among colleagues in the region.
The development of national processes and the organization of this regional
event were conducted as part of a larger and integrated process. The first
phase has ended and brought about many tasks within national and regional
At the end of this event, participants were able to acquire a clearer vision about how to contribute to risk reduction, revise and update regional practices and policies for disaster risk reduction, based on the experiences of different actors and the commitment to fulfill and achieve what was stated in the Declaration of Tegucigalpa.
Future CooperationAndean countries hope that both this strategy and its respective implementation plan result in improved organization of local efforts, cooperation and international support within the sub-region at large. It is also expected that all related projects include an appropriate structure to systematize their results, findings and conclusions, in order to make ongoing contributions. Finally, it is expected that increased support and collaboration from different partners will be obtained to develop and implement this proposal.