Leading experts from across Latin America and the Caribbean were brought together for a work-shop in Quito, Ecuador, on 30 January 2017 to discuss the challenges and opportunities of building resilience to natural disasters of villages in the region, with a particular concern for the contribution of energy services. Key points made in the presentations and discussions are summarised in the following paragraphs.
People living in rural communities and in poverty often return after natural disasters to rebuild in risk-prone areas as they have no realistic alternatives: ”you live where you can, not where you want to”. Short-term imperatives like having enough to eat take precedence over medium- and long-term considerations of safety. Also, urbanisation may increase the number of people living in vulnerable areas; for example, coastal cities subject to hurricanes and tsunamis, and cities located near to faults at risk from earthquakes. Natural disasters result in 26 million people around the world each year stepping back into poverty.
Countries need to establish resilience strategies based on improved knowledge of the risks and identification of the most vulnerable communities. Such strategies need to be developed and implemented in a way that integrates the efforts of all relevant government ministries. In respect of the physical infrastructure, they need to establish building regulations and ensure they are implemented, and put in place prevention and recovery actions. International initiatives such as the Sendai Framework are helpful in establishing objectives and definitions, and supporting inter-national collaboration.