Plan Germany and Plan Guatemala have started an 18 month project in November to enhance the capacities for disaster preparedness and disaster management of 23 communities in the municipalities of Masagua, province of Escuintla, and Taxisco, province of Santa Rosa, Guatemala. The German Federal Foreign Office is donating 121,894 euros of the total project cost of 135,438 euros.
Guatemala is subject to various natural hazards due to its geographical location. Bordered by both the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean the country is highly endangered by hurricanes. The rainy season lasting for six and half months each year brings heavy rains and a constant threat of inundation and landslides. In addition being located at the intersection of three tectonic plates the country is subject to high levels of seismic activity and a constant threat of earthquakes.
The high levels of poverty aggravate the vulnerability of the people; like everywhere in this world the poor are most vulnerable to the effects of disaster.
The project region is threatened by flooding in case of heavy rains and by seismic and volcanic activity with two active volcanoes in only 80km distance. The fact that human settlements are partly located in highly eroded flood plains and close to the rivers in combination with a lack of waste management are increasing the vulnerability of the local population.
A study conducted by Plan Guatemala verified that the population is not at all prepared to deal with disasters. The project is addressing the need for capacity building with regard to disaster preparedness at three levels: schools, communities and municipalities.
On each level Disaster Preparedness Teams will be established and trained on Disaster Preparedness, Search and Rescue as well as First Aid and receive basic emergency equipment like lanterns, shovels, ropes and First Aid Kits. Risk maps and emergency plans will be developed on all three levels and signs posted on evacuation routes; emergency simulations will be planned, conducted and evaluated.
In order to enhance cooperation and exchange of experience between the different communities the project will establish five inter community networks each involving four to five communities. Simple equipment like bells and megaphones will be installed in carefully selected locations in order to allow for early warning of the population.
At the beginning of the project awareness raising and sensitisation activities will be conducted involving representatives of all 23 communities and schools as well as community leaders.
All project activities will be conducted in a participative manner and in close cooperation with relevant local authorities. This is important as they are attributed responsibility of coordinating disaster preparedness and management on a local level in the Guatemalan Disaster Coordination System. A total of 762 people will be participating in the Disaster Preparedness Teams while the project region’s total population of more than 19.000 people will benefit from the increased resilience of their communities.
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