Disaster management partnership helps pave way for a safer Honduras

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August 16, 2017

Government of Honduras and PDC partnership on national disaster preparedness assessment provides new tools, data, and technology to protect communities from devastating loss.  

Nearly twenty years following the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch–the deadliest and most costly hurricane to hit Central America in 200 years–Honduras and Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) have just completed the final workshop on a year-long National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA). The NDPBA provides new scientific risk evaluation tools and access to critical information to help guide decision making. Reflecting the country’s unique needs and­ priorities, the assessment also provides a five-year risk reduction roadmap to complement the many steps taken by Honduras since Mitch left a staggering 20 percent of the nation’s population homeless.

“Our assessment provides scientific information about the underlying factors that exacerbate disaster risk—such as socioeconomic vulnerability. This information helps decision makers prioritize investments as well as design more effective plans to mitigate disaster losses, prepare for, respond, and recover from hazards.” said Dr. Erin Hughey, Director of Disaster Services at PDC—an applied research center managed by the University of Hawaii.

Bringing together multiple organizations within Honduras to collaborate and share critical data with one another, PDC’s assessment combines information collected from numerous sources into its powerful decision support system, DisasterAWARE. DisasterAWARE provides multiple stakeholders with shared access to the same scientific data and analytical products, all in one place, with map-based visualizations that make information easy to access and understand.

Gonzalo Funes, Director of the CENICAC training division of the national disaster management organization Comité Permanente de Contigencias (COPECO) said, “During Mitch, many lost their homes and livelihoods and whole communities were devastated. Even now the effects of Mitch remain on the minds of Hondurans.” He added that, “The NDPBA and DisasterAWARE provide very important information that will help further COPECO’s mission to safeguard the lives of the inhabitants, infrastructure, and personal property of people in our country.”

COPECO plays an important role in the partnership between Honduras and PDC, as does the ongoing support for COPECO from JTF-Bravo, a U.S. Southern Command military unit that operates in collaboration with both partners to enhance disaster management capacity throughout the Central American region.

“We have been collaborating with the Government of Honduras and PDC for several years now, on projects that range from geo-mapping and technology innovation projects, to full-scale training and support exercises that help prepare first responders and humanitarian assistance forces for real hazards. We support the NDPBA program because it greatly aids our ability to rapidly identify the probability of our involvement as well as how and where to best direct resources for the most positive impact.” said Lt. Colonel Carlos Moya of JTF-Bravo.

The NDPBA project is just the beginning of a multi-phased partnership between PDC and Honduras to advance its disaster management capacity. Discussions are currently underway planning the next set of initiatives to support the risk reduction goals of COPECO and other national partners involved with disaster planning and preparedness. PDC anticipates a bright future for these partnerships as well as for the future of Honduras.

Read more about the Honduras NDPBA project:

Intercambio de experiencia con el Centro de Desastres del Pacifico (PDC) y la (DEPN).  Plan de Nación, August 13, 2017.

 

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