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Disaster Management Saves Lives, Good For The Economy

As major disasters intensify, become more rampant, and affect communities more frequently, APEC economies face massive challenges to respond to and mitigate disasters, cushioning its economic and development impacts, and protecting people’s lives.

“We are meeting against the backdrop of a gloomy outlook of emergency and disaster management,” said Juan Carlos Urcariegui Reyes, Chair of the Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum.

“To this end, it is of utmost importance to exchange experiences and lessons learned in solidarity aimed at strengthening the livelihood of our communities in the Asia-Pacific region,” added Urcariegui who is also the Chief of National Institute of Civil Defense and General of the Division of Army of Peru.

Senior disaster officials met in Arequipa last week to deepen their cooperation and enhance emergency preparedness that considers the sustainability and inclusivity aspect, as well as taking a more community approach.

Officials are building more capacity in emergency preparedness for communities, empowering them to engage in all emergency management phases—prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

“This theme must guide us, by virtue of our experiences and realities, to design strategies for optimal disaster risk management so that we can adequately serve our communities through international engagement, as well as through mutual and timely support,” Chief Urcariegui said.

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“With this, we will strengthen our capacities so that with intelligence, perseverance and in particular, with the dedication to serve, we can face emergencies, attend to our communities and above all, save lives,” Chief Urcariegui continued.

Disasters often start and end with the local communities that are affected, and it is increasingly crucial for governments to intensify the ability of these communities to be prepared and to act when disaster starts to strike. This includes stakeholder mapping, strengthening community engagement, data gathering and risk mapping.

“While we understand that improving communities’ capacities is important in facing tomorrow’s hazards, building capacity at the local level appears as a great challenge,” said Luis Doñas, acting co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group at the forum.

“One way of addressing this is by establishing specialized unit for disaster risk management within the local government and municipalities, and equipping it with appropriate funding and staff,” Doñas added. “We can also develop some regulations that require or mandate local governments to develop both disaster risk and emergency preparedness planning.”

Member economies recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all measure to empower communities for emergency preparedness and disaster response. Training and education, as well as the use of technology, can help tailor the needs for each community and meet their needs.

“Only by working together with determination and vision can we achieve our goal of contributing to our communities for a better and secure future sustainable for all,” Chief Urcariegui concluded.

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