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Latin America and Caribbean - Preparedness and Mitigation Programs Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2008


Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2008


The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are highly vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes, and drought. In addition, disasters triggered by environmental and industrial incidents, such as forest fires and chemical and oil spills, pose a potential threat. At times, El Niño Southern Oscillation events and poor land use management exacerbate the effects of these hazards. Several countries in the region are also vulnerable to civil unrest and associated humanitarian consequences.

Recognizing these vulnerabilities, USAID/OFDA supports disaster preparedness and mitigation programs aimed at reducing loss of human life, alleviating suffering, and lessening the social and economic impacts of disasters. These programs include risk identification, prioritization, and reduction, as well as post-disaster recovery and short-term rehabilitation projects. In the LAC region, USAID/OFDA promotes local and national self-sufficiency in disaster preparedness and management. USAID/OFDA-supported programs build upon and strengthen the capacity of established national and regional disaster management institutions, many of which already have the ability to meet most emergency needs after an event.

Established in 1989, the Regional Disaster Assistance Program (RDAP) is the primary vehicle for USAID/OFDA's support of disaster risk management in LAC. Over the years, given the increased capacity of disaster management personnel and governments in LAC countries, USAID/OFDA has shifted from a strictly instructional approach to providing more technical assistance for planning, strengthening, and centralizing the role of national organizations in disaster management. USAID/OFDA's technical assistance enhances local and regional abilities to respond to emergency needs by increasing understanding of disaster preparedness and mitigation activities, as well as encouraging intra-and inter-governmental coordination in all risk management initiatives. In many LAC countries, disaster management training is conducted entirely by national trainers, with USAID/OFDA providing only technical assistance.

The RDAP and other preparedness programs are overseen and monitored by USAID/OFDA's team of five regional advisors based in San José, Costa Rica, and a consultant network of 20 disaster management specialists dispersed throughout the region. USAID/OFDA regional advisors and consultants are available for immediate deployment to conduct damage and needs assessments in response to disasters and help coordinate U.S. Government emergency response activities, if required.

In FY 2008, USAID/OFDA provided nearly $9.2 million for new and ongoing disaster preparedness and mitigation projects in LAC region.

USAID/OFDA/LAC Preparedness and Mitigation Assistance

Regional Programs

- Regional Disaster Assistance Program (RDAP): Through a contract with the International Resources Group (IRG), USAID/OFDA maintains a network of disaster assistance experts throughout the LAC region who are available to deploy to disaster sites, perform damage assessments, and provide guidance on disaster preparedness and mitigation activities. IRG consultants oversee a multi-course program with instruction in disaster management concepts, training methodology, and technical disciplines. The program also provides technical assistance, including guidance for strategic planning and organizational development processes, facilitation in the development and evaluation of national and local risk management training programs, support for inter-institutional coordination mechanisms, and assistance in the preparation of local, departmental, and national emergency action plans. The program began in Latin America in May 1989 and expanded in 1991 to include the Caribbean countries. In FY 2008, the program further expanded to include Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Grenada. Since the

program's inception, more than 50,000 participants have been trained and 5,150 instructors certified in 32 countries. Many of the USAID/OFDA-trained individuals have assumed leadership roles in national disaster management organizations and presently conduct training in their own countries using local resources. USAID/OFDA contracted IRG to implement the RDAP from 1998 to 2008 and has issued a solicitation for the next five-year phase of the program, which will continue until 2013. Total USAID/OFDA funding for RDAP since 1998 is $40,347,995: FY 2008 $5,153,341

- Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas: In FY 2008, USAID/OFDA entered a cooperative agreement with Florida International University (FIU) in Miami to stimulate new disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities and strengthen existing programs in the LAC region. The five-year, $4.5 million project will provide opportunities for key actors and stakeholders to work together to address vulnerabilities in the region. FIU designed the project to expand upon the underlying concepts of the Paul C. Bell, Jr., Risk Management Initiative, a joint endeavor between USAID/OFDA and FIU that began in 2003 to consolidate and improve risk management programs in the region's institutions of higher education. Through the new project, FIU plans to create and manage an inventory of DRR initiatives in the LAC region and will identify, promote, and strengthen 12 existing DRR communities of practice (CoPs) comprising multiple stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, universities, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private voluntary organizations, and civil society groups. In close coordination with USAID/OFDA's Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, FIU will provide CoPs with strategic scientific, technical, and methodological assistance. The program began in August of 2008 and will continue until August of 2013: FY 2008 $800,000

- Emergency Health Preparedness Program: Since 1998, USAID/OFDA has supported the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) efforts to promote improved disaster preparedness and response in the health sector. In 2003, USAID/OFDA and PAHO entered into a five-year agreement, focused on increasing the capacity of health professionals to respond to disasters in the LAC region. The U.K. Department For International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) also support the program. PAHO is working to increase and improve advocacy, technical information services, and human resources training in health, environment, and related sectors. Specific PAHO activities include production and dissemination of training materials and health guidelines, support for the development of building codes for health and water facilities, and health surveillance in local communities during the immediate post-disaster period. The five-year agreement will conclude in December 2008. Total USAID/OFDA funding to PAHO for regional technical support in the LAC region since 1998 is $11,450,870: FY 2008 $1,000,000