|Diagnostic Study for the DIPECHO Action Plan for Central America and the Caribbean (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters - DIPECHO - ECHO Programme for Disaster Preparedness, Mitigation and Prevention, 1997, 184 p.)|
|THIRD PART - CURRENT FRAMEWORK AND CONDITIONS FOR A COHERENT, WORKABLE AND EFFECTIVE DIPECHO PROGRAMME|
· The needs expressed as regards combating natural disasters are a summary of the analysis of risks (first part) and actions carried out up to now to reduce them (second part). They may form a starting point in themselves for DIPECHO action. However, DIPECHO cannot answer all these needs. It is therefore necessary to make choices, according in particular to a number of feasibility, coherence and efficiency factors.
· National and regional characteristics indicate that, in the framework of considerable heterogeneity and division, it has so far been difficult to set up genuine common prevention/preparedness programmes on a supra-regional scale, except in a very selective fashion.
However, contacts, exchanges and common reflection on disaster reduction and emergency management should be encouraged not only at a supra-regional level but also at the level of the Caribbean islands, which are themselves extremely heterogeneous. Otherwise, it might be useful, for the sake of comparison and adaptability, to apply pilot versions of preparedness/prevention projects successfully tried and tested in one region to the other.
· The two regions benefit from the presence of regional organisations whose role is to contribute to risk reduction and to coordinate actions aimed at doing so. However, the situations of Central America and the Caribbean are very different.
Despite its youth, CEPREDENAC has a solid base in Central America and is an important vehicle for the coordination of disaster reduction projects, at national and local levels. Several projects have been set up in the framework of the PRRD (Plan Regional de Reduccie Desastres). In order to support CEPREDENAC in its task of promoting the idea of prevention, technical support would be useful on the themes of integrating risk prevention in sustainable development programmes and communicating with decision-makers.
CDERAs competencies and sphere of action are more limited. The organisation covers only part of the Caribbean and its actions are mainly confined to risk management. It is genuinely effective, but limited, which is seen in a certain disappointment expressed by some member countries, particularly the OECS, which aims to develop its own risk reduction programmes. If we add to this the desire expressed by CARIFORUM, which has a more wide ranging sphere of action than CDERA, to include the issue of risk in its concerns, it is clear that a discussion must quickly be opened on the possibility of obtaining a genuine programme at regional level. DIPECHO should contribute to this discussion.
· Another problem concerns institutional weaknesses at national level (limited vision of the problems, limited capacity for identifying priorities and formulating projects and lack of political and financial support). Apart from exceptional cases, national institutions cannot, for the time being, be more than indirect partners to ECHO.
This highlights the fact, as has been observed during the last few years, that it is at a local level that risk reduction projects are most likely to lead to concrete results. Apart from their direct usefulness in cases of emergency, the strengthening of local structures would give solid impetus to self management and could lead to genuine operational capacities in terms of risk reduction. By extension, this could be a decisive pressure element for motivating real involvement in high places, in particular in the political milieu. It is thus crucial that actions at a local level are continued and consolidated while thought is still given to institutional strengthening at higher levels.
· Among the organisations capable of participating to the implementation of the DIPECHO programme, it is useful to bear in mind a number of partners who have already had field experience, having already worked in collaboration with ECHO. These are big international organisations: IDNDR and its regional office, PAHO/WHO, FICR and OAS. Several projects (continuation of existing project or new projects) directly fall within DIPECHOs sphere of interest and deserve to be supported. The UNDP raises a problem as regards its capacity for integrating the issues of prevention/preparedness in its development programmes. However, there are many opportunities. Some projects, however, do include this dimension and could interest DIPECHO.
Other possible partners include well-known organisations such as la RED or MSF. Other organisations, through their experience or their projects, might also interest DIPECHO. These could include, in Central America, FEMICA, the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias Econas (Costa Rica), and AUI; and for the Caribbean CDMD, CRS, the University of the West Indies (Jamaica), CEP, PREMIDES or GESTESA. This is a preliminary selection, but the list is not exhaustive.
· The current role of the European Community and the Member States together with their prospects should also be considered.
Several Member States have been involved in the region in different areas of risk reduction, at the level of scientific or technical cooperation or of actions by IDNDR national committees. These include Sweden in particular, but the participation of Denmark, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands is not insignificant, while German involvement is taking shape. The other countries play hardly no role in the region, except in a very selective fashion.
On a geographical level, Central America has benefited more from support from European countries. On a thematic level, scientific and technical research is dominant. Except by Sweden, the prevention/preparedness/institutional strengthening aspect is still insufficiently developed. Projects which are in the under way or in prospect are directed at this area and are mainly intended for a municipal action framework. They deserve to be supported in the framework of DIPECHO. It should however be noted that these projects are applicable mainly to Central America and that the Caribbean is still insufficiently concerned. It would appear to be useful to develop local assistance platforms and inter-island collaboration here, particularly between islands which have close links with European countries, and the rest.
Apart from ECHO action in the region since 1994, the Community has involved itself very little in disaster reduction. However, several development programmes could usefully have introduced this dimension. It is important that thought is given to this here and now, particularly in the framework of integrated prevention and development activities. Dissociating these two aspects, in particular in a region where there is a high risk of disaster of any type is neither logical or financially viable. DIPECHO must contribute to putting right this situation.