By Humberto Jaime
Panama - The Bolivian State strategy for disaster risk reduction contextualizes in the conception of the harmony of man with mother earth, from which the national "Dignified, Sovereign, Productive and Democratic Bolivian to Live Well Development Plan, 2006-2011" was implemented.
However, and according to Harley Rodríguez, Deputy Minister of Public Investment in Bolivia, during the 3rd Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Geneva, Switzerland, May 2011), "this relationship balanced with nature is being endangered by the impact of climate change which multiplies disasters frequency and intensity”.
According to the 2011 Global Assessment Report (GAR) of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, in Bolivia the risk of floods and landslides associated with heavy rains prevails. At the same time, Bolivian population also has a high exposure to droughts, standing among the 42% of countries with more people present in the areas of risk and therefore subject to possible losses.
During the first quarter of 2011 and according to official figures, the rainfall attributed to La Niña phenomenon claimed 54 lives and affected 24,292 families in 115 of the 337 municipalities across the country; two months ago, Deputy Minister of Civil Defense, Oscar Cabrera reported that the drought that struck at least five departments and led 22 municipalities into a State of emergency, primarily affected more than 16 thousand families in 16 crucian municipalities and communities of the O'Connor province of Tarija, where a few thousand cattle died due to the lack of water and food.
In this context, the Bolivian State has been developing national initiatives aiming at effectively reducing the impact of disasters involving national development, such as the strengthening of Risk Management Units, UGR for its acronym in Spanish, being "El Alto" one of the pioneer municipalities in operation.
Bolivia is also one of the 133 countries in the world that reports progress in building resilience through the National Progress Report in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
At the local government level, both disaster risk reduction and resilience development of communities to contribute to sustainable development, became project commitments to the authorities of the Federation of Municipal Associations of Bolivia, FAM for its acronym in Spanish, and the municipal governments of the East and West, especially the municipalities of Yapacani, Santa Ana del Yacuma, Santivañez, Independencia, Morochata and Cocapata, after joining the global campaign “Making Cities Resilient: 'My City is Getting Ready!”, during its national launch in the El Alto municipality, Bolivia, in recent days.
Together with the Santisima Trinidad municipality - registered previously - municipal representatives signed a commitment to assume the 10 disaster risk reduction essential referred to in the Campaign that successfully promotes the UNISDR and which, up to date, has helped strengthen good practices for disaster risk reduction in 181 cities in America and 1286 worldwide.
Presiding over the launch, Deputy Minister of Civil Defense, Oscar Cabrera, mentioned that the invitation is open to all municipalities that wish to participate in this event and become an active part of this global campaign, whose objective is to achieve resilient and sustainable urban communities.
Cabrera explained that a resilient city or municipality must have early warning systems to announce disasters and coordinate immediate responses to future tragedies that include the development of local capacities for emergencies management.
Under this idea, Edwin Castellanos, the FAM President, urged for unity and to make a responsible and planned work on risk management issues, with the common goal of safe and healthy environments for its territories inhabitants.
The Mayor of El Alto, Edgar Patana, also noted the importance of implementing disaster risk actions when he stated that: "we are not exempt from suffering adverse events; our cities are suffering unpredictable disasters as floods and tributaries diversion. That understood this event is important so that we will be prepared, organized and become alert to any event that can happen".
The event, which ran until December 20th, brought together local actors, mayors, risk management units responsible, UGR, municipal members of the Emergency Committee, COE, as well as national and departmental level governmental agencies representatives, as well as representatives of the main international humanitarian agencies and the United Nations system.