Strengthening partner alliance in Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of increasing climate and disaster risks

May 5, 2021

Building on years of joint commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) are formalizing efforts to support the second most disaster-prone region in the world. This partnership will ensure that the region is better poised to face the growing impacts from natural disasters with the help of two global partner organizations. Following their successful responses to Hurricane Dorian (2019) in The Bahamas, the 2020 response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota, and the ongoing collaboration throughout Asia and the Pacific, UNOCHA and PDC have broadened focus to sign a new Memorandum of Cooperation supporting OCHA’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC).

Pictured above: PDC, UNOCHA ROLAC, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) share situational awareness data and products at The Bahama’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during response to Hurricane Dorian.

“The marked increase in disaster impacts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean can be linked in part to climate change and degradation of environmental resources—both of which greatly reduce community resilience,” said PDC’s Director of Global Operations Dr. Erin Hughey. “Challenges facing the region must be addressed collectively by all agencies and organizations.” She described how lower levels of resilience are closely intertwined with other destabilizing forces such as social unrest, migration, displacement, conflict, poverty, and violence.

“By combining our respective resources, OCHA ROLAC and PDC can help nations build resilience, peace, and prosperity by bridging gaps in disaster preparedness and response capacity and instituting a collective, global standard for anticipating urgent needs in times of crisis.”

Rogerio Mobilia Silva, Head of OCHA ROLAC a.i., explained that as the coordinating body for inter-institutional preparation and response throughout the region, ROLAC is always working to advance its agility and adaptability in coordinating timely and effective humanitarian response. “Over the past years we have seen increasingly intense events having a devastating impact on people in the region. Teaming up with PDC is a great opportunity to improve the overall coordination of the humanitarian response, which is at the core of OCHA´s work.”

One immediate outcome for the partnership, according to Silva, is that OCHA ROLAC will make better use of localized information to support planning and response with a high degree of scientific accuracy by repurposing innovations already developed and used operationally by OCHA’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) for more than a year.

Pictured above: PDC and UNOCHA ROLAC develop joint products to aid response to Category 5 Hurricane Iota which hit Honduras in November 2020, directly on the heels of catastrophic impacts from Hurricane Eta.

In addition to applied joint research and products, the partnership will help support planning ahead of crises by expanding use of information technology for disaster management, early warning and hazard monitoring, and advancing proven strategies and practices in response and disaster management.

“PDC’s DisasterAWARE platform, along with its scientific modeling, and subnational risk and vulnerability assessment data align well to support the mission of OCHA in reducing disaster risk around the world,” said PDC’s Executive Director, Ray Shirkhodai. “The partnership also helps us learn of new ways to apply our work toward the important and complex problems OCHA is tackling on the ground during and ahead of disasters in assisting nations in the region.”

About OCHA´s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC)

OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. Mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, it coordinates the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. OCHA’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) is based in Panama City, Republic of Panama and covers 48 countries and territories.

About PDC

PDC is an applied research center managed by the University of Hawai’i that develops new technologies and best practices to advance the field of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. We support the most demanding needs of nonprofits and government organizations worldwide in our collective missions to create a safer, more disaster resilient world.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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