Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Central America learning value of disaster prevention

Danilo Valladares the Eurasia Review via Tierramerica: The growing frequency of weather-related disasters in Central America has led to greater organizational efforts for risk management and emergency response. But during the most recent storm in the region, the fruits of these efforts were still not visible.

The latest tragedy to strike Central America was Tropical Depression 12-E: at the time of writing, a total of 91 fatalities had been recorded, while more than a million people suffered some form of losses and damages in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala. And this does not include the damages to agriculture and infrastructure, which will take more time to assess. The storm reached the region on Oct. 12, and since then there has been an endless series of emergency situations created by flooded rivers, landslides and collapsing buildings.

The governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua declared a “state of calamity” to gain speedier access to funds for emergency relief work. According to Williams De León of the Volunteer Firefighters of Guatemala, the fear instilled by deadly Hurricane Mitch (1998) and greater inter-institutional coordination has led to a change of attitude toward disaster risks.

“A lot of people realized that Guatemala is very vulnerable to the climate and now they are more organized,” he told Tierramérica.

Since 2004, disaster committees have been created at the regional, departmental (provincial) and local levels, with representatives of all levels of government, the private sector and civil society groups involved in emergency relief and prevention.A 2010 standard established basic criteria for construction, and in July safety standards were established for public buildings....

A 2004 flood in Honduras, shot by ZackClark, Wikimedia Commons

No comments: