Strengthening the capacity to manage information is a major challenge in risk reduction. This is the objective of a project to create information centers for disaster prevention and response sponsored by CRID, PAHO/WHO, and the ISDR as part of the broader Andean initiative on disaster prevention (PREDECAN) (www.comunidadandina.org/predecan/index.html).
These information centers will be a major boost to the institutions responsible for civil protection (or its equivalent) in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. They will act as coordinating centers for the initiative and work to build and promote a national information network made up of organizations that work in disaster planning, management, and response; in education; and in conducting research on risks. Above all, these centers will give visibility and access to the enormous quantity of technical information being produced in different sectors in each country, and which too often is overlooked.
It will take significant collaboration among many players to make these centers a success. Overcoming institutional rivalry and the reluctance to share information, giving visibility to all network members, and seeing the results of teamwork—and all of this in the context of each country’s idiosyncrasies—are a few of the challenges of an initiative that aspires to the level of cooperation that a “network” represents.
Training, technical assistance, and donation of computers will help the information centers to get off the ground. In May, representatives of the institutions involved attended a regional workshop in Peru where they received training in some of the basic tools required for setting up the information centers.