Desarrollando ciudades resilientes 1 Millón de Escuelas y Hospitales Más Seguros
Bolivia: Resilience in Harmony with Mother Earth


Photo: La Paz, by Padmanaba01, Flickr.


By: Humberto Jaime

Panama, December 24. - The Bolivian State strategy for disaster risk reduction contextualizes in the conception of the harmony of man with mother earth, from which the national "Dignified, Sovereign, Productive and Democratic Bolivian to Live Well Development Plan, 2006-2011" was implemented.

However, and according to Harley Rodríguez, Deputy Minister of Public Investment in Bolivia, during the 3rd Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Geneva, Switzerland, May 2011), "this relationship balanced with nature is being endangered by the impact of climate change which multiplies disasters frequency and intensity”.


According to the 2011 Global Assessment Report (GAR) of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, in Bolivia the risk of floods and landslides associated with heavy rains prevails.  At the same time, Bolivian population also has a high exposure to droughts, standing among the 42% of countries with more people present in the areas of risk and therefore subject to possible losses.

During the first quarter of 2011 and according to official figures, the rainfall attributed to La Niña phenomenon claimed 54 lives and affected 24,292 families in 115 of the 337 municipalities across the country;  two months ago, Deputy Minister of Civil Defense, Oscar Cabrera reported that the drought that struck at least five departments and led 22 municipalities into a State of emergency, primarily affected more than 16 thousand families in 16 crucian municipalities and communities of the O'Connor province of Tarija, where a few thousand cattle died due to the lack of water and food.

In this context, the Bolivian State has been developing national initiatives aiming at effectively reducing the impact of disasters involving national development, such as the strengthening of Risk Management Units, UGR for its acronym in Spanish, being "El Alto" one of the pioneer municipalities in operation.

Bolivia is also one of the 133 countries in the world that reports progress in building resilience through the National Progress Report in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

At the local government level, both disaster risk reduction and resilience development of communities to contribute to sustainable development, became project commitments to the authorities of the Federation of Municipal Associations of Bolivia, FAM for its acronym in Spanish, and the municipal governments of the East and West, especially the municipalities of Yapacani, Santa Ana del Yacuma, Santivañez, Independencia, Morochata and Cocapata, after joining the global campaign “Making Cities Resilient: 'My City is Getting Ready!”, during its national launch in the El Alto municipality, Bolivia, in recent days.

Together with the Santisima Trinidad municipality - registered previously - municipal representatives signed a commitment to assume the 10 disaster risk reduction essential referred to in the Campaign that successfully promotes the UNISDR and which, up to date, has helped strengthen good practices for disaster risk reduction in 181 cities in America and 1286 worldwide.

Presiding over the launch, Deputy Minister of Civil Defense, Oscar Cabrera, mentioned that the invitation is open to all municipalities that wish to participate in this event and become an active part of this global campaign, whose objective is to achieve resilient and sustainable urban communities.

Cabrera explained that a resilient city or municipality must have early warning systems to announce disasters and coordinate immediate responses to future tragedies that include the development of local capacities for emergencies management.

Under this idea, Edwin Castellanos, the FAM President, urged for unity and to make a responsible and planned work on risk management issues, with the common goal of safe and healthy environments for its territories inhabitants.

The Mayor of El Alto, Edgar Patana, also noted the importance of implementing disaster risk actions when he stated that: "we are not exempt from suffering adverse events; our cities are suffering unpredictable disasters as floods and tributaries diversion.  That understood this event is important so that we will be prepared, organized and become alert to any event that can happen".

The event, which ran until December 20th, brought together local actors, mayors, risk management units responsible, UGR, municipal members of the Emergency Committee, COE, as well as national and departmental level governmental agencies representatives, as well as representatives of the main international humanitarian agencies and the United Nations system.

Related links:

Photographs of the Campaign Launch in Bolivia

Global Campaign "Making Cities Resilient: 'My City is Getting Ready!"  

More about Disaster Risk Reduction Press Room UNISDR - The Americas


About the campaign.

At the end of December 2012, 1286 cities worldwide and 181 in the Americas were participating in the Global Campaign.

Cities and local governments need to be ready to reduce risks and be resilient against disasters.  From 2010 to 2015, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, will campaign together with its partners to make it happen.

The global campaign for Disaster Reduction 2010-2015 "“Making Cities Resilient: 'My City is Getting Ready!”" deals with issues of local governance and urban risk, based on previous campaigns on risk reduction in schools and hospitals, as well as the sustainable development principles developed in the Urban Worldwide UNHABITAT Campaign.

The Campaign focuses on increasing political commitment to disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change between local governments and mayors; using media and high-profile public awareness activities and developing specific technical tools that respond to capacities development.

Main objectives 2012-2015:

·     Greater knowledge and commitment: achieving more local governments registered to the Campaign and support of national Governments toward resilient cities

·      Good investments and safer buildings: learning implementation and city to city capacity building, handbooks and action guides

·     Compare and report: self-assessment tool for local governments on resilience to disasters

·     Emphasize partnerships and UNISDR capacity as platform and knowledge management center


My City is being prepared!

Mayors and their local governments are the key objectives and the Campaign hosts.  Local authorities are facing threat of disaster every day and need better access to the policies and instruments to effectively deal with them.

The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building resilience of nations and communities to disasters provides solutions for local governments and actors to manage and reduce urban risks.  Urban risk reduction offers opportunities for capital investment through infrastructure upgrades and improvement, modernization for energy efficiency and security, urban renewal, cleaner energies and slum upgrading.

Local governments are closest to the citizens and their communities’ institutional level.  They play the first role in the response to crisis and emergencies and the attention to the needs of their constituents.  They provide essential services to their citizens (health, education, transport, water, etc.), which should be resistant to disasters.