Communicating with Hazard maps in Central America workshop - Antigua, Guatemala, 20-24th March 2017
The objectives of this workshop were to (1) establish needs-driven priorities for the region (focusing on El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua), and identify any variations across the participating countries; (2) establish stakeholder-defined project outcomes so that in-country crisis response, preparation, and planning are genuinely benefited; (3) establish research interests and experience across the region and map those to UK-based academic groups; (4) identify case studies for specific hazards and communities; (v) Identify potential pilot studies for future research with key groups and define preliminary data needs to support those studies.
The workshop was held in Antigua, Guatemala. The majority of attendees were from institutions in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador. A sub-set of UK-based network participants attended as well as other collaborators from around Latin America.
Group breakout discussion summaries captured on these flipchart mind maps
Summary of the workshop
Day 1: The morning session served as an introduction to the expertise of the UK contingent and as an initial training and capacity building activity aimed at both practitioners, academics, and students. The second session focused on the challenges of development in Central America: Experiences from the point of view of NGOs. The final session discussed building resilience in the face of risks and disasters: Experiences from the point of view of civil society and national and local government.
Day 2: Exchange of experiences with hazard maps. Practitioners were invited to give presentations on their experiences of making and using hazard maps.
Day 3: Field trips to the slopes of Fuego volcano.
Day 4: Summary of what has been achieved so far, instructions for the day. Followed by discussion sessions - small groups according to themes. Closing discussion.
Existing maps are not all necessarily as well used, understood or communicated as they could be. It is recognised that the responsibility to communicate the information falls between gaps/institutions/groups.
Hazard Information needs to be designed more effectively, two types of info: response and preparedness. Participation levels can be top-down or bottom up, or a few cases both.
Throughout the region, local community leaders are key to hazard communication and self-evacuation decisions.
Strong precedents have been set elsewhere that community-developed maps are an effective way to engage and get buy-in at the local community level. Similar initiatives being used by NGOs in the region.
Challenges include the ties of people to their land/livelihoods, for instance where people resettle dangerous areas because their livelihoods were tied to those areas.
There is recognition that disaster management protocols need to be kept up to date, and evolve with understanding and experience, but changing established protocols is often hard to do.