UNESCO and the European Union strengthen their approach to risk disaster reduction

©Pablo Marambio/UNESCO Office Santiago

Cooperation between UNESCO and the European Union Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) has developed relatively recently since UNESCO has been implementing projects under the Civil Protection and DIPECHO programme on disaster preparedness. ECHO together with the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean based in Santiago de Chile have been successfully carrying out the project “Adaptive learning Mechanisms for the prevention and response to tsunami in vulnerable communities in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru” under the 6th DIPECHO Action Plan for South America. The initiative also involves UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) as well as local, national and regional partners.

The main goal of the project is to raise awareness and promote education for disaster risk reduction and participation in prevention and response to tsunamis and earthquakes. In addition, the project aims to improve regional and inter-institutional cooperation and coordination in preparation for tsunamis. It has three main components:

  • Tsunami risk reduction among students, teachers, administrators and parents
  • Drafting local disaster risk reduction plans in cooperation with the community
  • Supporting the creation of inter-institutional and regional coordination mechanisms for tsunami early warning systems at early warning centers and among national education and governmental authorities

In the framework of the initiative, several workshops were jointly organized by ECHO, UNESCO Office in Santiago and other local and regional partners, addressing teachers and directors of educational institutions in risk zones which are highly exposed to seismic and tsunami phenomena. The participants had the opportunity not only to discuss their respective problematic realities but also to exchange their experience, knowledge and lessons learned.

In Central America, UNESCO Cluster Office in San José has started implementing another project in partnership with ECHO addressing Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Central America is a region exposed to a large spectrum of natural hazards: droughts, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruption and tsunamis. Therefore the main objective of this project is to strengthen early warning from a multi-threat perspective. The action addresses the following priorities: identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning systems, use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels and finally, strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.

After these successful experiences, new joint DIPECHO projects are currently under negotiation and target disaster prone countries in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka), South America and Haiti.

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