Urban Disaster Resilience Workshop in Guatemala

July 18, 2017 - In Guatemala City and its surrounding urban areas, many poor families are forced to live on steep hillsides in lieu of flat terrain. Living on hillsides makes already at-risk families even more vulnerable, often putting their entire livelihoods at stake. An especially rainy week combined with a small tremor or earthquake could be disastrous for thousands of families living in precarious situations.

Every time there's a disaster it's evident: Guatemala needs to improve its capability to prepare for and mitigate disaster.

On Wednesday, July 12, PADF and partners hosted a workshop on urban resilience, titled the "First Urban Resilience Meeting." The event was part of the Yo Me Preparo project, which focuses on disaster risk reduction in Guatemalan hillside communities. The project is funded by Taiwan and implemented by PADF.

The day's objective was to share knowledge and bring an array of experiences and perspectives to the table. By engaging various sectors, authorities can improve the way they serve and protect vulnerable urban populations.

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“Guatemala is among the most vulnerable countries due to its geographic position and sociopolitical situation,” said Lucía España, Technical Lead for PADF Guatemala. “For these events it’s vital to share information and look for solutions across all sectors.”

Disaster risk reduction relies highly on coordination between national and local government, civil society, municipal government, academia and communities themselves. The event brought together all of those actors to catalyze the spread of knowledge and share best practices.

Lucía notes that community organizations and nonprofits have a responsibility, but “it is the municipality paired with the local and national disaster management teams that have the greatest responsibility for these processes to become sustainable.”

The event's organizers and speakers included PADF, Techo Guatemala, the Guatemalan Red Cross, ESFRA, CESEM, Mancomunidad Gran Ciudad del Sur, COOPI, Perpendicular, CONRED, and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

Guatemala's local disaster response teams, or COLREDES, presented their successes and shared their challenges during one forum event. Discussion also focused on the use of new tools and technology to further mitigate disaster. A final forum brought up local implications for new national laws and how local entities should continue serving under new legislation.

The Yo Me Preparo project’s inclusive approach to disaster risk reduction has shown that a wide range of communities and organizations play an important role. The project has focused on strengthening links between sectors, thereby creating a more sustainable form of collaboration.