Peru Inaugurates Warehouse to Aid Efforts During Natural Disasters

Peru Inaugurates Warehouse to Aid Efforts During Natural Disasters

By Geraldine Cook
January 12, 2016

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The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) contributed US$670,000 for the construction of a warehouse to store equipment the Armed Forces needs to respond to natural disasters.

With the support of the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Peruvian government recently inaugurated a warehouse in the region of Tacna dedicated to storing equipment and other supplies that will aid the Peruvian Armed Forces and other government agencies in responding to natural disasters.

The Regional Center for Emergency Operations (COER, for its Spanish acronym) inaugurated the Civil Defense Regional Humanitarian Relief Warehouse during a ceremony on December 10th that was attended by local authorities and representatives from the Armed Forces, the National Police, and SOUTHCOM. The warehouse covers more than 1,130 square meters at the COER’s headquarters in the district of Gregorio Albarracín Lanchipa.

SOUTHCOM contributed US$670,000 for the facility’s construction. Additionally, the COER, which is also in Tacna, was also financed and built with assistance from the Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) in 2013. Since 2009, SOUTHCOM has supported Peru with more than US$20 million for infrastructure projects, equipment, and the training of operational personnel.

Large storage capacity

The facility has a storage capacity of about 3,500 cubic meters, enabling it to house humanitarian supplies, such as food, blankets, and tents, to aid up to 1,000 families.

“[The warehouse] forms part of a management model that is sustainable and participatory,” explained U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Storer, with SOUTHCOM’s Military Assistance Advisory Group in Peru. “Authorities and citizens can coordinate prevention efforts, prepare themselves to face potential disasters, and conduct training that is needed in such situations.

“This warehouse belongs to Tacna’s regional government (GRT, for its Spanish acronym), which is responsible for provisioning it with personnel from the Civil Defense and humanitarian relief supplies that can be distributed to affected communities in case of disaster or can even be sent to municipal warehouses with the aim of enhancing the response capabilities of the local authorities,” LCDR Storer added.

As part of its ongoing support for Peruvian security efforts, a group of SOUTHCOM specialists will conduct a training session for Civil Defense technicians and COER personnel on how to manage the warehouse because it “is not just any warehouse. It requires special handling that they (SOUTHCOM) have developed,” said Tacna’s regional governor, Omar Jiménez Flores, in a video disseminated on December 10th.

To the Peruvian Armed Forces, this donation represents “an ideal way to provide immediate humanitarian aid during emergencies and natural disasters,” said Lieutenant General Rodolfo García Esquerre, Commander of Operations for the Peruvian Air Force, in an interview with Diálogo

Peru prepares for natural disasters

The relief warehouse will help the Armed Forces respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters, which are an ongoing threat. Peru’s geological, tectonic, topographic, meteorological, and oceanographic characteristics make it extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. Earthquakes, torrential rains, flooding, and landslides in the Tacna region alone compromise the safety of the population and developing infrastructure.

Specialists from Peru’s National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI) and the executive office of GRT’s National Defense warned that an earthquake of 9 on the Richter scale could affect 60 percent of the population, Diario Correo
reported on December 10th. Given this prospect, the GRT – with the help of SOUTHCOM’s HAP – started building the warehouse on April 16, 2014.

The Peruvian Army, Navy, and Air Force “greatly appreciate Southern Command’s support. This shows the concern that the United States has for strengthening the Peruvian state’s capabilities to respond to natural disasters,” Lt. Gen. García Esquerre said. “This warehouse will be extremely useful in compiling humanitarian relief materials because communication lines are interrupted at times during situations that result from the [meteorological] phenomenon of El Niño.

“Aid needs to be on the scene in advance in order to be distributed,” he stated. “This gives us both flexibility and the possibility of being more efficient while transporting humanitarian aid.”

Ongoing cooperation

Contributing to the warehouse’s construction reflects the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to work with Peru to “achieve development with social inclusion, better access to services, and better preparedness to prevent natural disaster events,” LCDR Storer said. Since 2009, SOUTHCOM, through the HAP, “has supported Peru’s health, education, disaster management systems, and facilities similar to those that have been or are currently being built in 18 regions throughout the country.”

Through the HAP, SOUTHCOM provided US$1.25 million to the first COER in the region of Lambayeque, which opened in March 2013 and includes an operations center, a training center that prepares service members for search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings, and equipment. HAP officials generally work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to facilitate the implementation of these projects in Peru.

“The USACE seeks bids from contractors, many of whom are Peruvian businesses,” LCDR Storer said. “The contractor is responsible for providing the USACE with a final design and the construction of the facilities. The USACE provides supervision and quality control for the project.”

In addition to helping strengthen its response capabilities before natural disasters, the HAP has also funded the construction of schools, clinics, and bridges nationwide. “HAP funds minor-scale projects, such as donations of medical supplies and construction projects in regions far from Lima that benefit communities that are susceptible to the influence of drug traffickers and terrorists,” LCDR Storer explained.

SOUTHCOM cooperates with countries in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America on a wide array of security issues. “Another large contribution of Southern Command can be seen in the areas of security and defense using technology, training, and the exchange of experiences with the Armed Forces,” Lt. Gen. García Esquerre said. “All of these actions strengthen the ties of cooperation and friendship between the United States and Peru.”