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Risk management at high altitudes

Background

The northwestern Atitlán highlands of southwestern Guatemala encompass five river catchment areas delineated by the natural borders of the overall catchment area of the Nahualate River. The social situation of the local population is precarious: 70% of people live in poverty, 35% of them in extreme poverty, making the region one of the poorest in the country. The climatic conditions are likewise very difficult. In recent years, the effects of climate change and recurrent natural disasters have made the lives of the local population even harder.

Such populations are highly vulnerable to natural disasters. An understanding of disaster preparedness and how to manage risk can greatly increase their resilience when disasters occur.

 

Objectives

Managed in close cooperation with the local authorities and population, this Swiss Re Foundation-funded project by Vivamos Mejor aimed to mitigate the negative effects of natural disasters by pooling knowledge and experience in risk management and to reduce the natural risks in the region through reforestation and sustainable forest use.

 

Approach

This project followed up on a previous project in Atlitán funded by Swiss Re, which found strong interest in and need for a risk management project in the area. Accordingly, in this initiative 27 communities from the first project received professional follow-up support and further risk prevention training. Risk and first aid committees were set up and reinforced in an additional 21 communities, which benefitted from the others’ experiences.

 

Achievements

To ensure that local bodies continue to apply the acquired knowledge after Vivamos Mejor left the region, skills were cultivated on a long-term basis through workshops and similar forms of participative education. Throughout the project, community members actively participated in planning and implementation to help establish and reinforce local capacities.

The project addressed reforestation and the sustainable use of natural resources with a focus on the prevention of soil degradation and erosion. By its end, the participating communities were able to carry on the related activities independently.

Vivamos Mejor Foundation

partner

The Vivamos Mejor foundation acts in the field of long term cooperative development work in Latin America. Its primary goal is to alleviate inequality by sustainably improving living conditions of socioeconomically deprived people.

Natural Hazards

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