DRR in Central America

In 2009 a comparative analysis of the capacities and conditions for DRR was carried out in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá and the Dominican Republic (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByrSGyaVA6h0X3JMU29HMm5nME0/edit?usp=sharing), examining risk drivers such as environmental degradation, socio-economic conditions and livelihoods and territorial planning and governance. The study concludes that current deforestation, which destabilises soil and causes flooding and landslides in the rainy season, is the environmental factor most influencing risk generation in the area, particularly in zones prone to hydro-meteorological hazards.

Regarding socioeconomic conditions the study shows, the most influential are poverty, unemployment, limited access to health services and unsanitary conditions. Food insecurity is also a challenge, especially in rural areas. Poverty and unemployment limit the options for marginalised populations to reduce risk and affect the other socioeconomic conditions, as without resources, families do not access health services to prevent infectious diseases and health epidemics caused by unhealthy environments and intensified by disasters.

The risk driver most emphasised by experts in the seven countries included in the study, however, was the lack of adaptive governance. Main issues highlighted are lack of coordination among government agencies, centralisation in decision-making, corruption and infringement of laws. It is, therefore, very difficult for local governments to implement territorial organisation plans without the support of the central government. Under these conditions, local governments are found to have insufficient capacity to act effectively at the local level.

For CA specifically, the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) brings together the environmental ministries of the Central American Integration System (Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana or SICA) that released its climate change strategy in 2010 (CCAD-SICA, 2010; Keller et al., 2011a).  Unfortunately, possibly the main reason for low adaptation levels in Central America has to do precisely with responses to disasters and DRR efforts, which are generally reactive rather than preventive. 

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