|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.)|
Since 1994, ECHO has financed many disaster prevention and preparedness operations (primarily for natural disasters) worldwide. Funding was provided in response to requests from NGOs and international organisations which carried out the operations themselves.
Evaluations of these operations have produced favourable assessments. However, ECHO wishes to increase its involvement in disaster prevention and preparedness and better target its actions in order to achieve greater overall coherence.
At its meeting of 16 July 1996, the Humanitarian Aid Committee approved the new regional approach proposed by ECHO for its disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness programme for 1996-98, to be called DIPECHO (Disaster Preparedness ECHO).
This programme is to be applied within regional frameworks and concentrates funding at first on Action Plans to aid the Caribbean, Central America, south-east Asia and Bangladesh. However, instead of simply responding to specific financing requests from NGOs, international organisations or governments, ECHO aims to draw up Action Plans and decide which partners are most appropriated for implementing them under the direction of ECHO itself. DIPECHO also aims to increase the efficiency of action as a whole in the European Union, through closely coordinating its action with that of the Commission and the Member States.
Finally, before Action Plans are drawn up there will be a diagnosis stage so as to identify, in each region, the hazards, response structures and policies already in place at community, national and regional levels; present and future external support will also be identified so as to decide what gaps there are and where and to assess the coherence and efficiency of response systems as a whole.
Against this background, a first exploratory mission was carried out from 30 September to 12 October 1996 in the Caribbean and Central America (four countries were visited) and resulted in a first report, (Report on the exploratory mission in the Caribbean and in Central America for DIPECHO by A. Angulo, Ch. Bugnion, Ph. Masure).
This report is very informative and in particular:
- it defines the conceptual framework, rightly stressing that prevention and preparedness ought to be distinguished from emergency aid and that they are part of a continual process in the same way as development;
- it introduces the main regional and international organisations and their activities in the field of prevention and preparedness;
- it highlights the greatest needs and provides some initial orientations for DIPECHO.
This report, which consists of the diagnostic study itself, follows a second series of missions to the same region and aims to complete the findings of the exploratory mission, in particular through:
- an analysis of disasters and their consequences;
- a comparative evaluation of risks in the region,
- a detailed analysis of what has been achieved and what is needed to reduce hazards and consequences of natural disasters;
- an examination of current conditions for a coherent, workable and effective DIPECHO programme, especially taking into consideration the current organisation of prevention and preparedness in the region, and an account of external support;
- proposals for priority lines of action for DIPECHO.