FIU Receives Grant to Launch Risk Management Program for Latin America and the Caribbean

The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) received a $1.6 million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (DCHA/OFDA), to implement a 3-year risk management program for Latin America and the Caribbean. Launched August 1, 2009, the “Paul C. Bell, Jr. Risk Management Program” is a new phase of the School’s existing Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas Program, housed in the Latin American and Caribbean Center, and directed by LACC associated factulty Richard Olson and Juan Pablo Sarmiento.

Spurred in large part by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation of 1997-1998, Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and devastating earthquakes in Peru (1999) and El Salvador (2001), higher education institutions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean expanded or launched risk management education and training. These efforts were more opportunistic than planned, resulting in a large number inadequately resourced, poorly staffed, and inefficient programs that resulted in significant attrition.

Through the Bell Program initiative, FIU researchers seek to enhance the sustainability of risk management programs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The aim will be to extend the breadth and depth of programs at select universities in the region by supporting advanced education and training. The Bell Program will also support new applied research, coordinate outreach activities, and create academic partnerships.

“The Bell Program will give us the opportunities to target three groups: 1) faculty and graduate students in the region who will be the primary beneficiaries of scholarships in disaster risk management; 2) institutions of higher education, as well technical and scientific institutions, throughout the region that will become affiliated “Bell Centers;” and 3) FIU graduate and postgraduate students from different disciplines who will participate in various Bell Program projects and initiatives,” said Juan Pablo Sarmiento.

“The Bell Program underscores the fundamental importance of disaster risk reduction preparation in the context of interdependent and transnational societies. The School of International and Public Affairs is enriched by this vital program,” said SIPA director John F. Stack, Jr.

For more information about the Bell Program or the Disaster Risk Reduction Program, contact the Latin American and Caribbean Center at 305-348-2894 or visit the program's webpage.