Dominican Republic Prepares to Effectively Respond to Disasters
By Yubelin Mariel/Diálogo September 29, 2016The Dominican Republic's National Emergency Commission (CNE, per its Spanish acronym) and the University of Hawaii's Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) held the "National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment" workshop. The event took place in Santo Domingo on September 14th and was led by Major General Rafael Emilio De Luna Pichirilo, executive director of the Dominican Republic Civil Defense and representatives of the PDC. Among other participants were members of the National Emergency Commission such as the Dominican Red Cross, the Ministry of Public Health, Civil Defense, the National Geological Survey, the National Statistics Office, the Emergency Operations Center and the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic. The preliminary results of the "National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment," were presented. The study was conducted by the Dominican Republic to identify conditions and capacities to effectively respond to disasters. The Dominican Republic was selected for the project because of its multiple high-risk profiles in terms of disasters like hurricanes, floods, forest fires and landslides. The workshop laid the groundwork for a strategic plan that will increase the country's capacity to confront and reduce vulnerabilities in order to save lives and reduce losses. National evaluation project The project is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of preparedness capacities during national disasters, and the results will be used to make effective and timely decisions for disaster mitigation and risk management. The main objective of the project is to identify conditions throughout the country which make certain areas either more or less ready or able to respond effectively and recover from natural disasters. Maj. Gen. De Luna Pichirilo welcomed participants and explained the importance of proper analysis to understand disaster risks. "With this data collection we are going to have a restructuring of our plans, fine tuning the actions we need to take through prevention committees, and mitigation and response in the different municipalities and provinces throughout the country. Likewise, the Emergency Operations Center will have an extremely important tool at its disposal to take action on its own in terms of institutional coordination, and we understand that with that we are moving forward in the risk management process," said Maj. Gen. De Luna. He added the operation’s center will work in close collaboration with disaster management organizations, governmental ministries, non-governmental organizations and various universities. During his presentation, Todd Bosse, a specialist at the PDC’s Disaster Management office, praised the CNE's active participation in the project. "All the work and the effort put in for the National Emergency Commission's event today demonstrates a great effort, a great vision for the future and a great willingness to collaborate." Furthermore, he said that "successful coordination can save thousands of lives, and, in the end, that is the objective we want to reach; that the disaster that could occur affects the least amount of lives and causes the least amount of losses.” The PDC, a research center managed by the University of Hawaii, is dedicated to improving disaster mitigation, preparation, response and recovery through innovative, global, multi-hazard disaster monitoring, early warning and decision support systems, as well as risk and vulnerability assessment. For almost two decades, PDC has delivered comprehensive information, assessments, tools, and services with the goal of reducing disaster risk. "Disaster management requires information, as well as analyzing the best practices and how to combine those practices,” said Bosse in reference the expectations for the Dominican Republic's disaster response capacity. “We hope this will be a great effort so we can not only mitigate, prevent and resolve a disaster when it occurs, but also save the greatest number of lives before they are impacted negatively."