1. Introduction

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introduccionDisasters caused by natural phenomena continue to be the most common threat to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Regardless of the frequency, intensity, and magnitude of the hazards, it is generally recognized that countries are increasingly vulnerable as a result of unsafe development practices.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) defines UNISDR Terminology as: “systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.”

Similarly, the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) World Report on Reducing Disaster Risk Reduction, A Challenge for Development, defines risk reduction as the systematic preparation and execution of policies, strategies, and practices that minimize the vulnerabilities, hazards, and spread of disaster impact for the entire society, in the broad context of sustainable development.

Disaster risk reduction must be part of the decision-making process, in the area of public policy-making and development planning in particular. Risk management also implies participation, coordination, information management, and intervention by many specialized areas and sectors. This is a shared responsibility, among government, civil society, and public and private institutions in all sectors and at all levels, ranging from the local to the level.

Since the impact of disasters can be immediate and/or last several years, countries must develop strategies to reduce the likelihood of damage and losses due to the hazards they face, by reducing either hazard or their vulnerability.


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