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Latin American experience in combining Disaster Risk Management with poverty reduction

Latin American countries are implementing a range of innovative strategies to address the underlying causes of disaster risk, while at the same time promoting social inclusion and productive growth.

Extreme weather events have a direct impact on households' welfare, and in particular, the poorest, most socially excluded populations. Increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding, is closely linked to the growing vulnerability of households and communities. Thus, the impacts of extreme events on poverty, income, consumption, health and education present a serious challenge to the well-being of these populations, and also produce negative long-term consequences for economic and social development across the region. In order to reduce the impacts of disasters on existing economic and social disparities, Latin American countries are implementing a range of initiatives that combine Disaster Risk Management (DRM) approaches with poverty reduction measures, social inclusion and the creation of jobs and productive activities. This Brief presents some key experiences from across the region, with a focus on urban governance, public investment systems and innovative insurance mechanisms. The Brief then describes the main contextual factors that explain why Latin American countries have made progress in these areas, as well as on-going challenges and key lessons that may be useful for other regions.

Key lessons:

  • it is possible to address the underlying causes of risk and reduce poverty using existing tools and strategies. Waiting for higher levels of economic development is unnecessary
  • preventative resettlement programmes can build resilience to risk and improve the quality of life of the poorest and most vulnerable urban populations
  • integrating DRM into public investment systems protects national financial resources from the economic impacts of disasters, thereby helping to maintain macro-economic stability, sustain growth and protect poverty reduction efforts