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Central American Countries Launch a Series of Simulations For Responding To Disasters And Emergencies

TEGUCIGALPA – The National Systems of Risk Management from Central American countries today began a series of simulation exercises to respond to emergencies and disasters in order to help strengthen their coordination processes and joint operation of humanitarian assistance for affected populations. These processes anticipate the participation of government institutions and national and international humanitarian actors.

Disasters in the Central American region, far from decreasing have increased during the last three decades, with an estimated growth of 5%. For 101 catastrophic events in the decades from 1970 to 1980, 418 events occurred in the period from 1980 to 2000, according to data from the Coordination Centre for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC), an organization that provides technical assistance for the development of the simulations, with the support of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations.

In 2011, the tropical depression 12E killed more than a hundred people, and affected thousands, and caused the overflowing of rivers, large-scale floods and landslides. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates the total impact of the disaster in almost two billion dollars, which represents 1.64% of the region’s average nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The cycle of simulations, which began today in Tegucigalpa, Honduras lasts for three days. It will continue during 2013 in Guatemala (April), Nicaragua (May), El Salvador (June), Costa Rica (July) and Panama (August). These exercises are conducted with the financial support of the IN the region from the international community.

This initiative is within the framework of the follow-up to the Central American Policy for Integrated Risk Management (PCGIR) and the mandates from the Presidential Summit of SICA, and is coordinated by CEPREDENAC’s preparation and response focal points, oriented by the implementation of the “SICA’s Regional Mechanism for Mutual Support in Case of Disasters” manuals. It challenges the implementation of protocols and procedures for decision making in emergency situations for each country, with emphasis on the management of humanitarian operations and nutrition and food security. The purpose is to expedite humanitarian assistance in case of a national or regional disaster.

In each country the participants of the simulations will be members from the Emergency Operations Centre (COE); the Centre for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA); the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) in Honduras; the National Coordinator of Disaster Reduction (CONRED) in Guatemala; the Directorate General of Civil Protection, Prevention and Mitigation of El Salvador; the National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters (SINAPRED) in Nicaragua; the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Care in Emergencies (CNE) of Costa Rica; and the National System of Civil Protection (NSCP) in Panama; which are all formed by state institutions such as ministries, police, military, customs and immigration, airport and port authorities. Participation also includes agencies from the United Nations System from participating countries, the International Federation of the Red Cross, various NGOs, and other humanitarian partners.