Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Brazil reformulates the National Law of Civil Defense
On February 16 of this year, the government of President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva enacted Law No. 5376. With this new law, the National Civil Defense System (SINDEC). It is worth mentioning that this law will be applied in more than 7,000 cities and that it was formulated with the support of different universities and based upon a number of studies carried out in various Brazilian regions by the multidisciplinary technical team led by Colonel Jorge Pimentel, of the National Civil Defense Secretariat
The law also created the National Center for Risk an Disaster Management (CENAD) which will link all states and the 200 cities that are generally the most affected by natural and man-made disasters.
With respect to community organization for disaster prevention, the law refers to the Community Civil Defense Core Groups (NUDEC), composed of community members who are able to mitigate the impact on disasters on these communities and live with risks and, thus, avoid their fatal implications. According to the figures of the National Secretariat, thanks to the active participation of communities and populations which contribute through this practice, supported by this law, to the strengthening of risk management processes, there has been a decrease in deaths during the disasters happening this year.
In addition, this law created the Disaster Support Group, made up of specialists from specific areas including the nuclear and radiological fields. Groups like this one did not formerly exist and may now be mobilized at any time to act in critical situations throughout Brazil.
For instance, last year a hurricane so powerful that a similar phenomenon had not been seen in 500 years affected the southern part of the country, along with various tornadoes occurring in different locations throughout this year outside of the normal rainy season caused "states of public emergency and disaster." This new law introduces changes to cope with these situations by eliminating all bureaucracy and thus obtaining the needed human, material, institutional and financial resources for the reestablishment of normal conditions for the inhabitants of these localities. This will all be accomplished in a faster and more efficient way than before the enactment of this law.
Finally, with this new law in effect we can state that risk management is now part of a national policy that contributes to a cultural education for disaster prevention and reduction.
For more information please contact: Pedro F. Caballero C.
Specialist in Disasters, Regional Civil Defense Coordinator, State of São Paulo, and volunteer member of PROCIV (NGO)