Expert of the Week   for  18 - 24 Aug 2014

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Pedro Ferradas

Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Programme Manager

Soluciones Prácticas - Oficina Regional para América Latina Expertise:  Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change networks. Historical information about disasters. Local assessment of the Hyogo Action Framework. Urban Disaster Risk Management . Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change

Born in Lima in 1951, Ferradas received his undergraduate degree in Sociology from the Pontifical Catholic University (PUCP) in Peru and masters in Participatory Research from the Complutense University in Madrid. He has served as a senior lecturer at various universities in Peru, including the National University of San Marcos (UNMSM), the National University of Cajamarca (UNC) and others. Additionally, he has worked as consultant for numerous international institutions, such as the World Bank (WB), Inter-American Development Bank (BID), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) etc. He has published numerous articles in academic journals and various books on Disaster Risk Management in Latin America, including “Tomo la palabra: Testimonio de Federico Campoverde”, “Villa el Salvador: de arenal a distrito municipal”, “Impacto del Fenómeno del Niño en el Perú: enfoques y experiencias locales”, “Prevención de desastres, tradición y organización popular”, “Desastres y derecho a la niñez en Centro América y el Caribe” (co-authored with Neptalí Medina), “A prepararnos” (co-authored with Orestes Valdez), edited in Cuba; and “Riesgo de Desastres y Desarrollo”. He was the Director of the Centre for Disaster Prevention Studies (PREDES) in Peru and the Emergency Coordinator for Save the Children in Central America and the Caribbean. He currently serves as the manager of Practical Action’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (previously ITDG) programme, is an advisor to the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima in Disaster Risk Management, a member of the Steering committee at the Global Network of Civil Society and recently, member of the advisory committee of the DRR Regional Platform for the Americas.

Urban Disaster Risk Management

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QQuestion by Ms Marion Laurence Courtois

Estoy trabajando con una ONG en Santiago de Chile sobre el riesgo de inundación. ¿Teneis ejemplos de "empoderamiento" local (no europeo ), taller participativo o enfoque multisistémico con la gestión de los riesgos en América Latina?

Ms Marion Laurence Courtois urban planner - specialized DRR and climate change | Habitat para la humanidad- Chile

APosted on 22 Aug 2014

 First of all, let me share an experience:  

In the Rimac River Basin in Peru, large avalanches of mud and rocks (we call “huaycos”) occur every year, and they attract journalists in the rainy months. Several years ago, they fell on Chosica settlements where an NGO had previously made ​​technical risk studies, which had been informed to settlement leaders and authorities, but they not implemented any of the recommendations. So, we decided to evaluate the disaster experience and prospects for reconstruction with villagers and local authorities; several initiatives emerged, including the creation of prevention disaster committees in the settlements, organize meetings and training events, designing and executing works to channel flows and to stabilize slopes and form a committee conformed by public services companies and local and national authorities.   

In the following years,  risks were evaluated, with the participation of the villagers and technicians had to validate their conclusions with them; leaders changed their statements to the media highlighting the need to prevent new disasters and reporting about proposals and projects; youth and women organized and work began to stabilize slopes that were subsequently replicated by government programs and NGOs; finally, proposed works combining funds from the central government, the municipality and the electricity company, which significantly reduced the impact of avalanches in recent years, were executed.

This brings us to highlight that people’s participation is much easier to accomplish soon after a disaster, but the challenge is to continue over time and involve their leaders and the public in the risk reduction process. However, a major challenge is the participation in risk reduction without a major disaster happening.  

There are some approaches which I would like to mention: Knowledge of risk should be part of the people’s knowledge. Evaluations should imply participation by them and local authorities. Link the local or community development programs to risk reduction. In a program called "Barrio Mio", which is under the Municipality of Lima, risks are evaluated before prioritize works of all kinds in the poorest and most vulnerable settlements. Conditioning services installation to the physical risk reduction and eventually the partial settlements relocation.  

Involving the community and local authorities in the national policies’ evaluation. The Vision First Line experience, which evaluates from community perceptions, is key for this purpose, and is being implemented in more than forty countries.

Organize awareness campaigns involving school-community relationship, interviewing leaders and specialists in the local media, etc. Leaders’ recognition through their integration in local platforms or municipal committees Incorporation of risk reduction proposals in participatory budgets. Participation in exchange networks, with local authorities, community leaders and women's organizations, which are involved in risk reduction subjects. 

QQuestion by Dr Leopoldo Estol

La problemática del animal urbano y su manejo en situación de desastre, ¿cómo enfoca la situación del animal comunitario , del animal vagabundo, del que tiene dueño y circula sin control?

Dr Leopoldo Estol Asesor | Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros

APosted on 22 Aug 2014

Animals are not only potential victims of a disaster, but they can also help us protect ourselves. I'm not just thinking about rescue dogs that rescue trapped people, but also to the studies on animal behavior in case of destructive phenomenon.  

Some animals have biological mechanisms that allow them to be informed in advance of the occurrence of, for example, a massive earthquake, which forces them to change their behavior. Studies of these bio-receptors may point the way for creating precision instruments that allow us to anticipate the occurrence of earthquakes and save lives, as was the case of the China earthquake in 1975.   Nowadays, animals that have prior demonstrations to the occurrence of an earthquake or flood, such as pigeons, snakes, fish, mice and lizards, are being studied.

For all types of animals, is necessary to create the best safety conditions in case of a disaster. This implies taking into account that they should stay in an environment where they can be less vulnerable (well-built and with non-structural elements assured that cannot fall on them), the possibility that it could protect, escape or be rescued (according to the case), provide identification by a collar or plate, vaccines and information about these should be visible, etc. ..

  If families have planned how to behave in case of a disaster, they should have included what to do with their pets. Otherwise, there could be many difficult situations, to the extent that is not guaranteed that they can bring their animals to the shelters, or that they will provide some good conditions for them to be taken care of.  

Another case are the animals that live in zoos, in police institutions, veterinary clinics or other public or private shelters that can collapse or stop working. In these cases, it is necessary to have facilities and strategies to avoid them to escape to nearby homes or the streets, which is what tends to happen and more difficult to handle when the staff available to do this is insufficient. Recently, an emergency plan to disasters in one of the largest zoos in Latin America was asked and they did not had it, but as a result of this requirement, they have begun to design it.  

Except for the cases mentioned above, cities often have fewer community animals, unless we consider the cases as pack animals in some cities, and carrier pigeon in others. The main problem in these cases is to pay attention to wounded animals and where to house them in case their owners are missing.

With this said, there are existing institutions specializing in disaster risk reduction in animals, and others working for the same purpose, so we can summarize some ideas about protection of animals in disaster, although there is not necessarily a consensus between all of them.  
For example, some of them emphasize about the risks of contagion caused by animals to people, and their suggestion is to isolate and even sacrifice them. Thus suggested: Collaborate in raising relief camps, outside all risks, to protect the earthquake victims of the disease spread from infected animals (zoonosis) Controlling the spread of contagious diseases by limiting the transport of animals or moving them quarantine.   Disposal of dead animals and controlling environmental pollution caused by animals, animal products and animal foods. Organize a missing animal’s program control, to organize their capture for their care or sacrifice.  

Other institutions focus on animals’ protection with specific recommendations for each hazardous event, such as: Do not leave your animals tied or locked inside the house, especially if the property is threatened by fire. Keep them as far as possible from smoke to avoid respiratory complications. If you must evacuate your animals, do not let them near damaged infrastructure or in places prone to flooding. If you must evacuate livestock in flooded areas, maintain a distance of at least four meters from downed power lines or poles.  

To the emergency kit already prepared for you and your family, consider adding a transport cage or bags that allow easy transport your animals, and also food and medicine for them. Tell your neighbors, friends and relatives who have pets at home and that could need care in case of an emergency.   If it’s possible, generate networks with neighbors and friends, to ensure that animals are not left homeless. Identify places you could take your pet in case you have to evacuate or leave your home (relatives or friends houses, shelters, pet hotels, veterinary clinics). Keep copies of the animal’s medical records in an accessible place, so that veterinary know their conditions.   Locate animal shelters or animal rescue groups who are working near your area. You may need to visit them to find your lost pet Never assume that you will be able to return home soon, even though you’re told otherwise by your local authorities. Animals end up malnourished, dehydrated, or crushed by collapsing walls. They can also drown or escape in panic and get lost.  

In case the authorities do not allow you to carry your pet, never let them loose, they cannot survive "by instinct". Put a water supply for the next 10 days. Fill several containers, if case any spills. Food supply should be for the next 10 days, and must be dry food. Canned food rots and spoils quickly.

QQuestion by Ms Becky Murphy

We are currently doing some research into urban adaptive capacity in Bangladesh. What can be done to strengthen specifically urban adaptive capacity? Do you have any good examples of successful urban climate change adaptation initiatives?

Ms Becky Murphy DRR Learning Support Officer | CAFOD
United Kingdom

APosted on 22 Aug 2014

Dear Becky,

In general, adaptation in the cities is a challenge because it’s tended to think more in mitigation. There are, however, some adaptation strategies that are being promoted or implemented according to the case presented. We can illustrate some of them.

Water in cities. In many countries, service companies have been privatized, so that adaptation strategies related to water also represent negotiation strategies. In the general discussion, we criticize policies that focus on increasing the supply of water by major investments that can even affect other basins or other users of the same basin. You can counterbalance this with policies that take into account changes in the demand: water recycling for parks irrigation, campaigns to save water. Or investment to plant and harvest water by increasing green areas or installing a series of wells.

The problem is that, with the climate change, we may have an increase in the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of extreme events, such as those that can be generated with the deletion of Monsoon or its opposite, the great floods that are characteristic in Bangladesh. I think the warning systems and shelters that have been improved in Bangladesh are an example of adaptation to such extreme climatic variability. In other cities, flooding have been faced through mechanisms that are not replicable in all cases, such as drainage systems and even opt for storage and pipeline systems that reduce the risk of flooding, slope stabilization and reforestation with species that can stabilize the unstable ground, or measures to protect sewer systems. In many of these cases, of urban growth dynamic is much faster that measures to reduce risks, and can be very effective, as the one I found find in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), a system that not favors the occupation of floodplains, for which they include monitoring people’s motivations to occupy certain city areas, and the municipality simply offer these lands in order to satisfy an important part of these motivations, but safe.

A second major subject is food or food safety. In general, cities can be quickly unsupplied with extreme events, which have almost immediate effects on prices. Today, there are instruments that allow identify the critical points of the food and to take the necessary measures, before and during a disaster. I remember that, in the case of the earthquake in Haiti, a lot of rice and water was imported (because the local system collapsed). Help by distributing rice and water served right away, but when it was considered that should end, there were no longer local producers (prices had lowered by the competition of the donated rice) and small businesses and persons providing water had closed. In Peru, the municipalities of the areas that could be affected by major flooding opted to buy, during the 1998 ENSO, food from local farmers, and incentives for production recovery around the cities were given. In Bangladesh, several years ago, I visited some small towns affected by flooding that had recovered small plots of land to grow vegetables in order to feed the family. The good part was the advice and support provided by a NGO, including nutrition education.

A third aspect that I’d like to mention is about regulations and policies. In many countries, sectorial policies are not complementary. However there are some initiatives where the rules for urban land use policies and service provision policies such as water and electricity are combined. In the planning of land use, it should be considered, in all cases, the different use of less suitable land for housing, in order to prevent them to be informally occupied, as it has happened in many relocation programs.

A fourth aspect is related to the people’s participation. It’s all about building citizenship by promoting people’s responsibility and involving them in all adaptation processes. Otherwise, many of the measures and policies will not be sustainable.

Finally, I’d like to talk about institutional arrangements. In my opinion, it’s a mistake to have a different policy on Climate Change, another on disaster reduction and yet other on environmental issues. What should be ideal is work on comprehensive policies, because they are more efficient and profitable. I remember recently meeting a municipal official, who was complaining about a beautiful project to build a large seawall on one side of a river had not passed; if it had been implemented, families inhabiting the opposite side would have increased their flooding risks. 

QQuestion by Ms Anne-Marie LEVRAUT

Central governments should take the diversity of cities into consideration and, therefore, there must be policies that adress such diversity.
Can you give examples ? Is it only for implementation? or also for policy development?

Ms Anne-Marie LEVRAUT general engineer | Ministry of sustainable development

APosted on 19 Aug 2014

Dear Anne- Marie

Thank you very much for your question. Today, disaster risk reduction policies are being implemented in many countries, but many of them, unfortunately, do not always consider diversity. For example, national governments often have rules that are apparently general, but they cannot be applied to sub-national or local areas that lack the human and financial resources to do so, or they don’t match their realities and needs.

In several countries, the municipalities are responsible for the assessment and management of risks, but, while large cities rely on highly specialized institutions and businesses, smaller and remote villages, far from the power center, may use different mechanisms and, especially, the participation of the people and institutions in the territory, whose advantage may be the closest link to their reality.

Our impression is that national policies should strength local governance and, therefore, must be flexible enough to be responsive to the diverse realities of cities and settlements. National policies should be at the service of local and community policies and not vice versa. In some countries, central government institutions seek to be more present in the most neglected areas, but, what they should look for is to strength their presence in local governments, to do so resources and capabilities are required.

The reality within every city it’s different. While in big cities basins are one of many important pieces to complement territorial management, in small and medium cities the basin is usually even more relevant because the people depends more of it for their economic activities, market accessibility and complementarity of nearby resources.

Some cities respond to the temporary boost of public and private investment, although they might languish after a few years if they don’t find a reason to be. Other cities are being progressively absorbed by bigger ones and, thus, their destiny may turn out to be different.

Given such diversity, central governments could create public investment policies in consultation with local governments.

QQuestion by Mr Gerardo Huertas

Not including farm & companion animals in city risk maps & evacuations may bring newer, compounded risks to urbanites everywhere. Do you consider this a responsibility of city officials, health authorities or the veterinary profession?

Mr Gerardo Huertas Director Disaster Ops for World Animal Protection | WSPA
Costa Rica

APosted on 19 Aug 2014

Dear Genaro:

I consider it necessary to have geo- referenced information of the farm animals location, however for companion animals, the situation is more complicated because they are usually scattered throughout the city.

They should be considered on risk maps and people has to know how to prepare their animals over the possibility of a disaster, and even create areas in the surroundings of the cities with farm´s infrastructure and the necessary services for this animals.

There are already some organizations specializing in this,  but there’s no doubt that having identification and information about the animal owner can help tremendously to help find them after the chaos that can be generated after a disaster; vaccines should be a normal practice, and they also should be a subject to evaluate in case of a disaster.

Personally, I think that urban Disaster Risk Management  is everyone's responsibility. Municipal authorities should ensure the protection of animals and incorporate them into plans and campaigns (providing information, resources and infrastructure). On the other hand, health authorities should incorporate measures to avoid spread diseases, or to take care of them if they are injured, in which case a veterinary is required.

First of all, they must organize and coordinate with local municipal and health authorities to ensure that adequate protection conditions for animal exists, including special shelters for this purpose, and also have adequate mechanisms for adoption

Finally, I think evacuation should be executed with both people and animals. Because they both need each other, it should be avoided that they are evacuated separately. In some countries, this is already part of the public policies but, in others, animals remain excluded. In case of people’s shelters, if anymals can’t be there, they should have protection and care spaces in the vicinity so that they may have contact with their owners.