This issue presents how Latin American and Caribbean countries encounter disasters each year, ranging from localized tragedies to region-wide catastrophes. These disasters are large, rapid-onset incidents, and they include hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and pandemics. Catastrophes pose significant challenges for impacted countries as they attempt to recover from the damage done. Challenges from disasters are often exacerbated by lack of technological capabilities, weak infrastructure, and bureaucratic challenges, among other factors. Within this context, improved digital disaster warning and management systems could provide critical support to the region as it prepares for future disasters.
Countries across the Western Hemisphere grapple with the impacts of inevitable disasters. For example, Caribbean locations are often hit by hurricanes and experience significant flooding, the west coast of the region is the most likely to be devastated by earthquakes, and landslides are common occurrences in Andean countries. Additionally, given the rapidly increasing impact of climate change, these disasters are occurring at a heightened frequency, making disaster preparedness, mitigation, and recovery even more difficult and essential.
Designing and implementing disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives can help countries in the region prepare for and mitigate the impact of disasters. Digital transformation and related technologies can and should play an important role in DRR, and the region can benefit from lessons learned by other countries with significant experience in disaster preparedness, like Japan.