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Latin America Initiative




Risk Reduction for Water-Based Hazards: Technical Assistance Opportunities

Water is a common element in hazards affecting communities in coastal and deltaic environments emerging from the ocean as storm surges, from the sky as rainfall, or from rivers and streams as floods. Preparing for these impacts is an important element of understanding vulnerability and building community resilience. A variety of approaches can be applied at the community level. By bringing knowledge, experience, tools and best practices for risk reduction, communities can work collaboratively to build capacity that leads to sustainable communities.

Communities in south Louisiana have experienced the impacts of major storms, hurricanes and floods from the beginning of their existence. In recent years, a series of strong hurricanes, the most prominent being Katrina and Rita in 2005, have caused major destruction of homes, businesses and infrastructure. These experiences have led to ongoing efforts to assess and reduce risk, increase resilience and enhance preparedness through planning, protection measures and education. The success stories and lessons learned can be used to define and advance programs that better equip communities in Latin America to sustain their economies and cultures by reducing risk through preparedness and planning.

The Water Institute of the Gulf proposes collaboration among organizations and coastal communities in Louisiana and Latin America (North-South collaboration) that can develop and stimulate the implementation of planning and management tools that reduce community risk and improve resiliency in the face of recurring water-driven natural hazards and water supply disruptions.


Collaboration

The Water Institute of the Gulf recently released a report that proposes collaboration among organizations and coastal communities in Louisiana and Latin America that can develop and stimulate the implementation of planning and management tools that reduce community risk and improve resiliency in the face of recurring water-driven hazards and water supply disruptions.

After a planning a meeting in July 2014 with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance– Latin America and the Caribbean (USAID/OFDA/LAC) and the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The Water Institute sought to work with Latin American partners to develop an ongoing program of collaboration consisting of three related components: training, research and outreach.

As such, The Water Institute presented its capabilities and discussed partnership opportunities with professionals from across Latin America at a meeting held in conjunction with the II Latin American Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction (LAC-DRR) in Higher Education in Bogota, Colombia, from November 24 to November 26, 2014. The Forum was sponsored by USAID/OFDA/LAC and United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) organizations.


LAC-WN

The Water Institute sought to find a selected group of scientists based on their academic credentials and interest of working together in the realm of responsible water use for the betterment of the LAC communities to serve as the LAC Water Network (LAC-WN). Among the twenty-one researchers interested in participating at this event, The Water Institute invited four researchers to participate. These four researchers were selected based on their outstanding research credentials, their quality of publications and their interest in the creation of the LAC-WN. The selected researchers are as follow:

  • André Munhoz de Argollo Ferrão, Universidade Estadual de Campinas / Faculdade de Engenharia Civil Arquitetura e Urbanismo / Departamento de Recursos Hídricos (Brazil)
  • Mário Jorge Cardoso Coelho Freitas, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina (UDESC) / Programa de Pós-graduação em Planejamento Territorial e Desenvolvimento Socioambiental (Brazil)
  • Linda Daniele, Universidad de Chile / Departamento de Geología (Chile)
  • Norka Fuentes Gonzalez, Universidad de los Lagos en Osorno / Laboratorio de Limnología  Departamento de Acuicultura y Recursos Agroalimentarios (Chile) 

Next Steps

As part of The Water Institute’s Latin America Initiative, the organization aims to:

1.     Challenge the research divide that exists between institutions in Central America and Caribbean, and those institutions forming the LAC-WN, allowing participants to: become more integrally linked to international research networks, become active partners in knowledge accumulation and capacity enhancement, participate in international research exchanges, and pursue joint research publications in scientific peered-reviewed journals.

2.     Reduce impacts from the greatest threat to the Central America and the Caribbean economies in terms of disasters and long-term survivability as it relates to its most precious resources— people and water.

3.     Be active contributors to reduce hazard risk and to build resilient communities through a more sustainable and balanced use of water.

For more information, please view the full Risk Reduction for Water-Based Hazards Latin America & Caribbean report here