Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas

In September 2008, the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) of Florida International University was awarded a 5 year program on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) by USAID/OFDA. The underlying project logic is that disaster response capabilities cannot keep pace with increasing human and economic vulnerabilities. Disaster Risk Reduction (preventing or limiting adverse hazardous impacts, especially within the context of sustainable development) is the only long-term solution to more effective disaster response: saving lives, alleviating human suffering, and reducing the social and economic impacts of humanitarian emergencies. The challenge is that DRR (itself a complex combination of prevention, mitigation, and preparedness) is still conceptually and technically underdeveloped. Even more importantly, many DRR initiatives or programs are still in the incipient stage and/or are too scattered and too undocumented and under-analyzed to serve as models or templates for adaptation, transference, and multiplication both intra-regionally (within Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region) and inter-regionally (from LAC outwards). Since 2003, FIU has been working with institutions of higher education involved in disaster, emergency, or “risk” management instruction in the LAC region. This earlier project has established a network of contacts that FIU will utilize in the DRR program.

The DRR project’s objectives include monitoring the conceptual development of DRR globally; developing and continuously updating an inventory of DRR initiatives or programs; promoting and strengthening DRR “Communities of Practice” (CoPs) in the LAC region; indentifying and supporting the educational and professional development of the next generation of DRR “thinkers” and “agents of change” in the LAC region; identifying and cultivating key DRR individuals and stakeholder groups; facilitating exchange and coordination between organizations and key individuals and stakeholder groups involved in DRR (“bridge building”); and organizing, formalizing, and making available worldwide LAC region capacity development services in Disaster Risk Reduction.