Peru's Ministry of Defense Aims to Improve Response to Natural Disasters

The Peruvian government has placed the National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) under the Ministry of Defense to improve and maximize the efficiency of the government's response to natural disasters.
Julieta Pelcastre | 4 April 2016

The Peruvian government has placed the National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) under the Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) to improve and maximize the efficiency of its responses to natural disasters. The country's Army, Air Force, and Navy held an initial meeting with INDECI to plan the cooperation efforts.

INDECI, a government entity, was assigned to the MINDEF on February 19th through regulation 002-2016-ED because its operations were considered to be closely linked to security and national defense policies, as reported by the official newspaper, El Peruano, on February 20th. The move bolsters the MINDEF, which is responsible for mobilizing during an emergency and for supervising and monitoring decentralized government agencies under its umbrella, and assumes a leadership role when natural disasters occur.

After enacting the decree, Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi and retired General Alfredo Murgueytio, the chief of the National Civil Defense Institute, held a coordination meeting on February 24th that was also attended by members of the Armed Forces Joint Command, led by Admiral Jorge Ricardo Moscoso Flores. The meeting allowed for “refining the levels of coordination between the INDECI and the Peruvian Armed Forces, welcoming them and incorporating them into future coordination meetings that will allow them to supplement joint efforts,” Minister Valakivi stated.

As a specialized entity in the Disaster Response and Risk Management program, INDECI coordinates and interacts with various response and rehabilitation agencies when the need exceeds regional and local governments’ capacities. It maintains a technical and operational relationship with the Armed Forces, which conducts an immediate response in the affected zones.

“For example, INDECI leads the National Ground Search and Rescue Service, which includes the Armed Forces, among other first-responder agencies," Gen. Murgueytio told Diálogo . “This platform for coordination allows us to interact with other agencies to arrange the rescue of persons trapped in collapsed urban buildings.”

MINDEF, INDECI protect civilians

The joining of INDECI and the MINDEF will benefit the population in the event of a large-scale disaster. The move will also “improve the coordination in the use of the Armed Forces’ human and material resources during response actions.” Gen. Murgueytio explained. “It will also contribute warehousing, storage, transportation, and distribution of humanitarian aid items as well as provide support in receiving goods provided as part of international cooperation that will be subsequently picked up from INDECI's customs.”

INDECI joins the National Geographic Institute, the National Aerospace Research and Development Commission, the Admiral Miguel Grau National Merchant Marine Academy, and the National Aerial Photography Service as government entities under the MINDEF. Through the Armed Forces and in coordination with INDECI, the MINDEF has responded to flooding damage caused by the El Niño phenomenon throughout the country. On February 25th, the Armed Forces Joint Command mobilized more than 700 Soldiers to zones affected by this natural phenomenon.

The Central Operational Command deployed 272 service members from the 1st Special Forces Brigade, as well as 10 support vehicles, to reopen the affected parts of the Central Highway and the railroad that were blocked by landslides and river overflows in the district of San Mateo, province of Huarochirí. Additionally, the Northern Operational Command coordinated with the Civil Defense Offices to provide 62 Military vehicles to assist the mission in the areas of Tumbes, Chachapoyas, and Piura.

Likewise, the Southern Operational Command provided support by deploying 500 Service Members and heavy machinery to reinforce roadway protections and place sandbags in the area of Cerro Calzón Colorado in Arequipa. These Troops also helped unblock highways that were littered with debris.

Special Command intensifies training

In response to the increased water levels in the Alto Urubamba River, which caused flooding in farmlands, the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley Special Command intensified its training and evaluation activities in close coordination with the Civil Defense Office in Echarate. “Under the recent circumstances caused by El Niño, INDECI has increased its storage capacity for humanitarian aid items in the northern part of the country by using Armed Forces facilities,” Gen. Murgueytio explained.

From the end of to 2015 to March 28, 2016, El Niño has impacted more than 100,000 persons. Its effects killed 20 people, injured 28, and left 8,000 people homeless, according to the National Risk Management Council for the El Niño phenomenon. Additionally, 1,210 homes collapsed, while 1,229 houses were left uninhabitable, and more than 24,200 suffered damages.

In the last two weeks of March, authorities recorded 31 emergencies in 14 regions, including Amazonas, Piura, Huánuco, Ayacucho, and Lima. A few months after the school year began, 14 educational buildings collapsed, 24 were declared uninhabitable, and 393 educational centers were damaged.

INDECI trains Armed Forces personnel frequently to develop skills and acquire knowledge for preparedness, emergency response, and rehabilitation. Army, Air Force, and Navy officers receive training in the following courses: Evaluating Damages and Needs Analysis, Incident Command System, Emergency Operations Center Management, Drafting Community Risk Maps, Early Alert Systems, and Management of Shelters for Victims. “Beginning in 2010, INDECI developed six courses of 120 credit hours of academics and practical lessons on Risk Response Management for Officers and technical personnel in the Armed Forces,” Gen. Murgueytio said.

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