Panamanians say that disaster risk is increasing

Walter Cotte, IFRC, and Ricardo Mena, UNDRR; deliver “Giant Riskland” to young people from indigenous communities and the Panamanian Institute for Special Education (IPHE). Photo credit: UNDRR.


By: UNDRR – The Americas.

PANAMA, Panama, 13 October 2015 - Four out of nine Panamanians think that disaster risk has increased, and inhabitants of Panama Metro attribute this increase to both the construction of housing developments in flood zones and the lack of disaster risk information. This shows the need for a plan which aims to educate and empower people to take action to face disasters.

These were the findings of the national opinion survey number 85 conducted by the CID/Gallup* firm in Panama on the occasion of the International Disaster for Disaster Reduction (#IDDR), this year celebrating traditional, indigenous and local knowledge as key to strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities, with a focus on respect and cultural integration.

The ceremony, held on October 13 and chaired by the Regional Office for the Americas of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), also recognized the indigenous community of Nasa of the municipality of Paez, Colombia as a Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas. The community was distinguished for its development of joint processes to reduce disaster risk in a context of reciprocity and complementarity, which integrated the knowledge of “the knowledge-bearers of the world outside” and that of "the knowledge-bearers of the world inside”, following the earthquake and avalanche of 6 June, 1994 and the reactivation of the Nevado del Huila volcano between 2007 and 2008.

As such and in response to the call made by the UNDRR on the occasion of #IDDR, the El Estribo community in Paraguay received a honourable mention for the presentation of its experience in revaluating traditional knowledge and participation to reduce risk to drought in the Paraguayan Chaco, followed by the presentation of a special report on Resilient Communities in Panama, produced by TVN-2 in coordination with the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) and World Vision, with support from UNDRR.

Finally, the IFRC, Plan International, Word Vision and UNDRR partners delivered educational disaster prevention materials in a giant format to students of schools and communities in vulnerable areas.

Significantly, on this day, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, called to “recognize the efforts of communities, large and small, who put their wisdom to use in reducing disaster risk and sharing their precious knowledge for life” and stressed that “traditional and indigenous knowledge is the indispensable information base for many societies seeking to live in harmony with nature and adapt to disruptive weather events, a warming globe and rising sea levels.”

Representatives of all sectors involved at the regional and national level participated in the event that took place at the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Panama.

* The survey was conducted at a time when Panama was experiencing heavy rains from 4 to 11 September 2015, which resulted in affected housing, fallen trees and flooded streets. It used a sample of 1,228 respondents nationwide, citizens 18 years and older living in the country.

Related links:

Photographs of the event

Message from the Secretary General

CID/Gallup in Panama

TVN Report





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International Day for Disaster Reduction #DIRD 2015 Knowledge for Life
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