|IDNDR - Informs - Number 09-10, Special Edition, 1996 (IDNDR)|
In Latin America, decentralization is transferring a variety of functions to local governments and organizations, so they can better coordinate with the Central Government the actions needed to respond effectively to emergencies and disasters. This new role calls for adequate prevention and preparedness mechanisms involving public institutions and civil society in emergency management. The novelty of these functions for local governments means that there is considerable room for innovative thinking, but it also creates the need for exchanging experiences in order to see what works and what does not.
Within the framework of the International Decade. for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), the International Committee of the Red Cross, Chile's National Emergency Bureau (ONEMI) and the Chilean Association of Municipalities decided to organize a South American conference on the role of local governments and organizations in the events of emergencies and disasters, in preparation for the Amsterdam conference. The IDNDR Regional Office participated as facilitator during the South American conference, which was held in Santiago, Chile, from 10 to 12 April, 1996.
The 161 participants included representatives of local governments, national Red Cross societies, international organizations and civil society. The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for exchanging experiences, policies and technical solutions among local, national and international actors involved in disaster management.
The goals of the Conference were to:
· Promote the exchange of experiences, policies and technical solutions among international, national and local actors involved in local disaster and emergency management.
· Contribute to improved disaster management by optimizing communication channels between municipal authorities and local civil society organizations involved in emergency and disaster preparedness and management.
· Encouraging municipalities and regional and national organizations to incorporate emergency and disaster prevention and preparedness in local development plans.
The Conference was organized in the form of round tables, working groups and plenary sessions, which enabled the analysis of individual cases put forth by participants.
Participants drafted a final document, the Santiago Declaration, which committed them, among other things, to:
· Improve municipal planning capacity to include risk factors in urban development plans.
· Discuss these matters with mayors through the Association of Municipalities.
· Strengthen the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in educational programs.
· Encourage community involvement and commitment in order to develop effective disaster prevention and response policies at the local level.
· Respect the culture of affected populations.
· Promote better cooperation between CSOs in the development of a culture of self-protection.
For more information, please contact:
Mario Rosales, Representante IULA/CELCADEL. José M. Infante 174, of 104, Santiago, Chile. Fax: (56 2) 235-8926. E-mail: email@example.com
-Alberto Maturana, Director, ONEMI, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org