The GNDR Secretariat took off for Santiago de Chile on November 11th to meet and learn more about our Chilean members and their quarterly team planning gathering. The one week visit organised by our Regional Coordinator Mave Bastias was a success! Chile is among the many disaster prone countries that played a key role in formulating the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted in 2015 at the UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction. Following the February 2010 earthquake of 8.8 magnitude, Chile has worked enormously to improve its entire disaster risk management strategy, with new emergency response protocols involving local communities.
A government in action
Our first visit on Wednesday 15th November was to ONEMI (Oficina Nacional de Emergencias del Ministerio del Interior), the Chilean government agency dedicated to the prevention of, and response to, disasters. ONEMI is in charge of coordinating national civil protection efforts, as well as educating civilians on emergency preparedness through the “Chile Preparado” programme (Chile Prepared). Our team was welcomed by ONEMI’s Director Ricardo Toro, who highlighted the importance of GNDR’s work in Chile in building relations with national civil society organisations tackling all types of disasters.
“Chile being prone to natural hazards, coordination between public institutions and civil society organisations is essential” said Mr Toro. The presentation of the institution was followed by a visit of its building that has been renovated and modernised in 2015. The building has been conceptualised to resist to catastrophes, particularly earthquakes, where seismic isolators have been added taking in account Chile quasi-constant seismic activity. In the inner courtyard, a new 60m high antenna can be seen. In 2009, ONEMI created the Civil Protection Academy that provides training to professionals working in prevention and emergency response. The academy publishes studies and campaigns throughout the country for disaster risk prevention.
“The work with GNDR has been very important, it has been a crucial learning experience for Caritas” Lorenzo Figueroa L. (Director of Caritas Chile)
Meeting with our members within Caritas Chile on Thursday 16th November was equally a learning experience for our team. Among them we met Carlos Kaiser Executive Director of the civil organisation ONG Inclusiva; Eduardo A Pando E, Projects Manager at ACHNU (Asociacion Chilena pro Naciones Unidas); Diego Gonzalez Vallejos, Coordinator of operations at Movidos Chile, Víctor Ramos Muñoz, Leonardo Moreno (Director) and Renee Fresard of the Fundación Superación de la Probreza, Catherine Mella, Caritas Chile; and Aldo Palacios Courret, President of Sinergias Chile.
All members stressed the importance of local communities being included in any sustainable global risk framework. “Disasters are opportunities of bringing people into international decision processes for disaster risk reduction but furthermore understand how to build sustainable development” said GNDR’s Secretariat Executive Director Marcus Oxley. Our encounter was the opportunity to learn more on Chile’s preparedness and emergency response systems, but also apprehend the challenges that our Chilean members are facing. Chile is a country highly at risk when it comes to disasters from natural hazards. Following the government´s response to the 2010 earthquake and the lessons learnt, the government as well as civil society organisations revised their entire DRR strategies. For our Chilean members, a key factor to effective risk preparedness and interventions is, as mentioned by Carlos Kaiser, to foster a “collective intelligence” gathering best practices from organisations, governments and the private sector.
A need for regional platforms in Chile
Chile has learned tremendously since its traumatic 2010 disasters experience. To quote Marcus Oxley GNDR’s Director: “A disaster is an adversity that can evolve to an opportunity of understanding how to build a stronger sustainable development”. Resilient infrastructures, early warning systems, urban planning and regular national campaigns have ensured further preparedness to natural hazards. All stakeholders have stressed the importance of establishing synergies between organisations to influence DRR policies at global level. Local understanding is crucial to any sustainable DRR strategy. Our visit in Chile confirmed the need for civil society organisations to share best practices and the invaluable knowledge gathered locally by communities. A top-down approach in DRR policy making is no longer an option and has proven counter-productive. Sustainable development and community resilience lie on inclusion of all communities. Therefore, while the Chilean government has made great progress by including civil society organisations in the National Platform for disaster reduction, there is a need for ONEMI to take this to the next level and create regional platforms that use local knowledge and resources to deliver a preparedness and response more inclusive and close to the communities of the diverse Chilean regions.
Downloads and Links:
Report of the GNDR's secretariat visit in Santiago de Chile [ENGLISH205.06 KB]