Respond to Natural Disasters
Natural disasters and humanitarian crises can devastate communities. PADF strives to lessen the impact by improving disaster mitigation, preparedness, and response.
When natural disasters and humanitarian crises strike, communities are often devastated and left vulnerable, having little access to some of life's essentials, such as food, clean water, shelter, and basic services. While they must deal with the tragic loss of human life and property, they also have to face the uncertainty of seeing their livelihoods destroyed or severely affected.
The increasing number and severity of natural disasters and humanitarian crisis in the Americas, combined at times with growing civil instability, demonstrate that the need for disaster interventions will continue to grow. As part of the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction, PADF is charged with mobilizing corporate and private contributions, and public sector grants, to support disaster preparedness and mitigation, emergency responses and , and to implement disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction programs.
PADF works in alliance with the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA) and its member national AmChams and their corporate members to respond to national disasters in individual Latin American and Caribbean countries to build local capacity for preparedness, mitigation and emergency relief. The Foundation also partners with Hispanic and Caribbean hometown associations, civic groups such as Rotary Clubs, foundations and individual donors to rapidly channel resources to where they are needed most. Each time, PADF works through local non-governmental organizations and communities and in close coordination with national disaster authorities in LAC countries and their Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States.
PADF strives to lessen the impact of disasters and crises by:
- Preparing for Disasters
- Providing Emergency Relief
- Assisting Disaster Recovery, Reconstruction, and Mitigation
- Strengthening Community Responses to Natural Disasters
- Supporting the Inter-American Committee for Disaster Reduction
- Aiding victims of humanitarian crises
Preparing for Disasters
PADF continues to promote the principles and good practices associated with disaster preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction in all its work, especially through its Disaster Management Alliance (DMA). This unique regional platform, established in 2004, continues to serve as a vehicle to associate and focus the public and private sectors on disaster management issues, while promoting best practices throughout the region.
In 2012, PADF highlighted the importance of this work and the principles behind it in countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica. The Foundation also participated in regional conferences, at the American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA) and at American Chambers of Commerce meetings and other international events, such as the Inter American Defense College. All had broad participation from local civil defense and civil-military personnel from the LAC region.
Providing Emergency Relief
PADF’s network of partners, including 23 American Chambers of Commerce and Organization of American States offices throughout the Americas, provides hemispheric-wide coverage during disasters. Working with the private sector, non-profit organizations and other entities, PADF distributes, monitors and ensures that relief supplies reach beneficiaries in an effective and timely manner. With the support of these partners, and through agreements with transportation companies, PADF moves emergency shelter packages and other supplies with very short notice. These efforts are enhanced by PADF’s close relationship with the OAS, which provides greater access to government authorities, translating into quicker and greater support and better on-the-ground responses.
In 2012, PADF responded to the following disasters:
- El Salvador—With support from Citi, Chevron and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., PADF benefitted 3,000 flood victims by mobilizing relief supplies, including basic food items, tents, blankets, plastic sheeting, personal hygiene kits, work gloves, lanterns, kerosene, water jugs and water purification tablets.
- Guatemala—After heavy flooding, Chevron worked with PADF to assist more than 4,900 people. Each family received a food kit containing beans, corn flour, sugar, oats, protein supplements and cooking oil.
- Haiti— Following Tropical Storms Isaac and Sandy, PADF rushed emergency aid to the communities of Marigot and Cayes-Jacmel and later distributed fortified rice to more than 25,000 people.
- Honduras—PADF partner Chevron sent a donation through the American Chamber of Commerce in San Pedro Sula in partnership with the Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO). This assistance benefitted more than 4,000 people and included food supplies, mattresses, cooking kits, infant kits and water.
- Jamaica—In response to Tropical Storm Sandy, PADF coordinated with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to provide relief to three of the island’s hardest hit parishes. PADF also worked with Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. to distribute water, food, and other basic supplies.
- Nicaragua—Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. and PADF provided assistance to more than 850 people in flooded communities. Relief supplies included rice, beans, sugar, cooking oil, canned foods, flour, water, powder milk, hygiene items, mattresses, blankets, clothing, building materials, and medicines.
Assisting Disaster Recovery, Reconstruction, and Mitigation
After immediate relief efforts are mobilized and implemented, countries often need support in reconstructing municipal buildings, schools and other infrastructure. PADF works closely with municipal leaders, community organizations, the private sector and civil defense agencies to identify the highest priorities and deliver resources with the greatest positive impact.
Working with Colombia’s Department for Social Prosperity (DPS), PADF received $1.5 million to implement a seven-month project to repair and rebuild public infrastructure damaged by flooding and contribute to the socio-economic recovery of the communities affected by the floods. The work, which benefited more than 2,300 people, took place in eight departments (provinces) prioritized by the Government of Colombia, namely Bolívar, Magdalena, Atlántico, La Guajira, Córdoba, Chocó, Sucre and Antioquia.
Strengthening Community Responses to Natural Disasters
PADF believes in the full participation of local communities and affected populations in relief programs, such as community-based early flood alert systems and other local preparedness planning and exercises. This approach complements the impact of a response, as it helps countries build public-private partnerships that enhance speedy responses and reconstruction and ensure greater coordination of assistance at the community level.
Supporting the Inter-American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction
PADF actively supports the Inter-American Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction (IACNDR), a forum established by the OAS General Assembly. IACNDR comprises many leading hemispheric organizations. Its primary purpose is to analyze issues related to natural and other disasters, including the prevention and mitigation of their effect, in coordination with OAS member states; competent national, regional and international organizations and non-governmental organizations. IACNDR also seeks to strengthen hemispheric actions to achieve maximum international cooperation in support of national and or regional efforts for timely prevention, preparedness, early warning, response, vulnerability reduction, emergency care, mitigation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Aiding victims of humanitarian crises
For decades, PADF has responded to most of the hemisphere’s major natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In its role as the OAS developmental and relief arm, PADF is also called upon at times to respond to other humanitarian crises such as assisting displaced persons in Colombia, demobilized ex-combatants in Central America, refugees fleeing civil unrest, victims of human trafficking and abuse, disabled citizens and excluded minorities such as Afro-descendent and indigenous communities and others.