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Updated every Friday.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August 10, 2012


Sustainable Cities: Defining a development horizon, seeking to extend the limits of adaptability
Alejandro Martínez and Pablo González

The concept of sustainable cities is not a new one. However, in the last twenty years, given the rapid urbanization processes and changes in consumption patterns in the Americas, urban planners, policy and decision-makers, as well as the international community have placed a high priority to this issue…
The cities of the Americas are experiencing dramatic changes, which are compromising their integrity, affecting negatively their functions.  Full article

Recent Natural Events

Colombia - Immediate needs for children and women affected by the floods in Putumayo
The security situation in the area is complex due to the presence of illegal armed groups. According to local authorities, there are several rural areas with restricted access due to a high level of landmine contamination and threats of illegal armed groups. Read

Sotarà volcano in Colombia on orange alert level, 6900 earthquakes since June 24th
The recent increase in seismic activity under Sotarà volcano, Colombia promted INGEOMINAS to raise the alert level from yellow (unrest) to orange (eruption warning) on August 8, 2012. Read

Tropical Storm Ernesto Swirls off Honduras Coast
Tropical Storm Ernesto swirled along Honduras' northern coast early Tuesday, bringing the threat of torrential rains as it headed toward landfall as a possible hurricane near Mexico's border with Belize. Read

Tropical Storm Ernesto kills 2 in Mexico
Tropical Storm Ernesto lost strength as it moved inland early Friday, though forecasters warned it could still dump dangerous rains in the mountains of Mexico's flood-prone southern Gulf region. Read

Santa Maria / Santiaguito volcano (Guatemala), activity update: weak explosions, lava flows
2 weak explosions were recorded Wednesday at 05.10 and 5:50 pm producing gray ash plumes rising 300 m. Read

Johnson City, Tennessee,  hit hard by heavy rain, flooding
Heavy rains pounded northeast Tennessee Sunday, including downtown Johnson City, where emergency crews in inflatable boats rescued people trapped in their homes and in their cars on flooded streets. Read

Flooding in Venezuela cut off towns from needed resources
Heavy rains have hit the state of Merida, isolating 2,500 people. Read

5.0 magnitude earthquake 111 km from Corinto, Chinandega, Nicaragua
No damages have been reported so far. Read

Other Disasters Related News
Request for Proposals: Sustainable Communities in Central America and the Caribbean
The Request for Proposals is open to NGOs, community based organizations and academic institutions registered in the Central American and Caribbean member countries of the OAS. Read

Women and Girls: The [in]Visible Force of Resilience
This year's International Day for Disaster Reduction  will put a spotlight on the millions of women and girls who are making their communities more resilient to disaster and climate risks and helping to protect development investments.  Read

New U.S. homes burn faster, but states resist sprinklers
Advocates - including firefighters, fire safety groups and the sprinkler industry - say sprinklers are needed more than ever in new homes because of builders' heavy use of prefabricated construction materials. The materials burn faster, firefighters say, causing more destruction and making rescue attempts more difficult. Read

Better weather, but too late for U.S. corn crop
The U.S. government on Friday released fresh crop data that revealed shocking cuts for this year's grain and oilseed output as the drought spread through America's breadbasket.  Read

USDA predicts big drop in corn yield
Fewer crops have translated into higher prices for consumers. On Thursday, the United Nations released a report that showed world food prices jumped 6% in July. Read

Friday, June 1, 2012

June 1st, 2012


El esnobismo de la Gestión de Riesgo y la Adaptación al Cambio Climático: esas conglomeraciones o conjuntos de bichos
Pablo González

Ernesto Sábato publicó su famosa novela El Túnel, en 1948. En ella, transmite en el relato de su personaje principal, Juan Pablo Castel, un pintor que asesinó a su amante, los pensamientos más profundos que rigieron sus propias ideologías y conducta. Y es muy pronto en su novela, en el capítulo IV y sólo la página siete de 65 páginas, cuando Juan Pablo Castel se refiere a algo que es tan cierto hoy como lo fue hace 64 años atrás cuando Ernesto Sábato publicó esa novela. Me refiero a la existencia de grupos que por distintas razones o motivaciones siguen una causa sin verdaderamente entenderla y, muchas veces, hasta en contradicción con otras causas superiores que ellos mismos profesan.  Full article

Recent Natural Events

D.C. forecast- Register to Alert DC   
The Alert DC system provides rapid text notification and update information during a major crisis or emergency. This system delivers important emergency alerts, notifications and updates on a range of devices including your:
  • e-mail account [work, home, other]
  • cell phone
  • pager, BlackBerry
  • wireless PDA

Tornado warning for Washington, DC, until 5:15 pm ET Read

Costa Rica volcano threatens to blow
Costa Rican officials warn that the country's rumbling Turrialba volcano may imminently erupt. Read

Nicaragua - Ten days of rain take heavy toll
Ten days of heavy rains have claimed the lives of nine people and affected 1,136 families—or more than 5,000 people—requiring the government to activate its emergency response system, according to Guillermo González, executive director of the National System of Prevention and Mitigation of Disasters (SINAPRED). Read

Nevado del Ruiz volcano, Colombia: new eruptions cause ash fall in Manizales
INGEOMINAS who had recently decreased the alert level of Nevado del Ruiz raised it again to ORANGE (eruption likely within days to weeks). Read

Hurricane Bud downgraded, dumps rain on Mexico's Pacific Coast
The remnants of the first hurricane of the 2012 season, Bud, dumped heavy rain along Mexico's coast early on Saturday but caused little damage before it turned back into the Pacific. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Inter-American Plan for Disaster Prevention ad Response and the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance Ambassador Gabriel Fuks, President of Argentine White Helmets Commission speaks on the  preparation of the Inter-American Plan for Disaster Prevention ad Response and the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, and how this instrument “will constitute, after its approval in Cochabamba, a road map towards safer and better prepared communities and nations, where information and technology to cope with disasters is not the patrimony of a few, who have access to use them with countries in an emergency…”  Read

Elders in Peruvian Andes help interpret climate changes
Their accumulated experience gives them an edge on dealing with the challenges posed by climate change today," Edwin Mansilla, head of the environmental management division of the Cuzco regional government, told IPS. Read

U.S - Gulf coast vulnerable to extreme erosion in category 1 Hurricanes: New model to help community planners, emergency managers
  USGS scientists used state-of-the-art modeling to determine the probabilities of erosion, overwash and inundation during direct hurricane landfall for sandy beaches along the entire U.S. Gulf Coast shoreline. Read

Webinars on Resilient Cities
A series of four webinars on building disaster resilient cities began this week, hosted by the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and the UN office for disaster risk reduction (UNISDR).

The topics are: 1.Enabling risk reduction through urban planning; 2.How to encourage multi-stakeholder engagement as a key factor in the planning, design, construction and operation or maintenance of resilient cities; 3.People’s needs and expectations in post-disaster reconstruction (in Spanish); and 4.How local governments have used UNISDR's Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient and the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool to close gaps and define priorities and institutional commitments to reduce disaster risk at local level. Read

On behalf of the Section for Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change, RISK-MACC, Department of Sustainable Development, Executive Secretariat for Integral Development, General Secretariat of the Organization of American States
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Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this bulletin are exclusively those of its authors and sources, and do not represent the opinions or the official position of the Organization of American States, its General Secretariat, or its member States.

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Honduras: Floods and Landslides - May 2012
Around 500 people were evacuated in Trojes in the region of El Paraíso, after floods caused damages to more than 100 houses. Read

Low  Peru temperatures kill 94 children since January
Nearly 100 children under the age of five died of pneumonia between January and April in Peru due to a cold wave that swept through the country's Andean region, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. Read

Hurricane Bud strengthens in Pacific as Mexico prepares
Hurricane Bud strengthened as it churned northwest in the Pacific, threatening the Mexican coast with high winds, surf and heavy rain through the weekend. Read

Icy waters flood villages in Alaska; Wildfires in areas of U.S.
Huge sheets of ice are clogging the Kuskokwim River in Alaska, flooding villages and forcing residents to evacuate by air to the town of Bethel in southwest Alaska. Meanwhile, multiple wildfires are burning across the country. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Travel Safely during Memorial Day Weekend
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is here, and for many it means getting on the road for the first long holiday weekend of the summer. The American Red Cross offers travel safety tips to help you and your loved ones have a great weekend.  Read

Action needed now  to prepare for severe drought
 The results from 19 different state-of-the-art climate models project extreme and persistent drought conditions for almost all of Mexico, the Midwestern United States and most of Central America. Read

Federal forecasters predict a near-normal hurricane season
The federal government is predicting a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic this year: anywhere from four to eight hurricanes forecast. Read

Refugee farmers find solace in a floodplain
Refugees from Burundi and Nepal are working to re-establish agricultural fields next to the Winooski River in Vermont that were damaged by Tropical Storm Irene last year. Read

European Commission allocates €5 million to help flood victims in South America
An estimated 1.2 million people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding throughout the region. Hundreds of thousands of farmers lost their crops, and many families have been forced to flee their homes due to the high water and landslides. Entire areas are still submerged under water. Read

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Peru – heavy rains
Between January and 11 May 2012 intense rains have caused mudslides and overflowing of rivers, resulting in a death toll of 49 and affecting some 783,930 people, of which, more than 269,270 are homeless. Read

Worst flooding in 100 years hits Manaus, Brazil
Brazil's Amazon city of Manus has been hit by the worst flooding in 100 years, crippling the local economy and displacing thousands of families in the country's northwestern region. Read

Northern Brazil -  Worst drought in 50 years takes toll
A severe drought is affecting more than 1,100 towns in northeastern Brazil, where short water supplies have devastated farm output, endangering the lives of local people and their livestock. 'Water wars' are observed in rural areas. Read

Panama - seismic activity of magnitude 4.9 and depth 10.30Km Read

Other Disasters Related News

Looming drought in the Caribbean
In Guyana, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud says that authorities have spent $1.2M to improve irrigation and to pump water into farmlands that are feeling the effects of largely absent year end rains. Read

Rebuilding Joplin a year after tornado
A year ago this week, miles of homes and businesses were flattened by the enormous multivortex storm, one of the worst recorded in U.S. history. Neighborhoods, schools and communities were literally blown away. Read

IOM Colombia hosts Fourth International Conference on Gender and Disasters
Delegates acknowledged the role of women in protecting the rights of children, elderly persons and people with disabilities and the limitations this situation poses to their response capacity and the possibility to migrate in search of work after an emergency. Read

Bolivian Civil Defense implements emergency recovery project
The 6 month project will cover the municipalities of Chipaya, El Choro, Toledo y Soracachi of the Department of Oruro, with a budget of 200,000 Euros. Read

Mexico -  Modernization of National Meteorological Service for improved Climate Change Adaptation
The National Meteorological Service (SMN, in Spanish) modernization plan includes activities such as institutional redesign, human resource recruitment and training, the installation of modernized infrastructure and improvements in the climate modeling tools used to generate weather forecasts and alerts. Read

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Brazil sends 500 troops to help Amazon flood victims
Brazil is deploying 500 troops, a field hospital and three Navy ships to help people hit by some of the worst flooding in decades in the Amazon.Read

COE: flash floods and mudslide warnings for 19 provinces – Dominican Republic
Due to possible floods and mudslides the Emergency Operations Center (COE) increased to 19 the number of provinces under alert, 11 of which are on yellow alert and eight on green. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Paraguay: Farmers Demand Food Assistance
The national emergency food assistance scheme, initiated by the government in January, follows an eight month period of drought which has seriously affected the agricultural sector. Read

Trickling back to live among, and off of, a hill town’s ruins
This town of 2,900 people was destroyed shortly before Christmas in 2010 in a natural disaster that was remarkable even in a country that has known its share of catastrophic mudslides, floods and volcanic eruptions. Read

Sugar, rice sectors severely impacted by heavy rainfall – Agri Minister
According to Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, these two industries have faced a number of setbacks which resulted in significant losses in production. Read

Mexican airport reopens after volcano activity
The airport in the central Mexican state of Puebla reopened on Thursday night after it was closed briefly by an ash cloud from a nearby volcano, said an official from the local government. Read

Did you know? The Caribbean and Central America had:
6 earthquakes today
18 earthquakes in the past 7 days
65 earthquakes in the past month Read

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 04, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Peru - Heavy rains cause more than 50 deaths since November
Flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains in Peru have caused the deaths of 53 people over the past six months, according to the country’s National Civil Defense Institute, INDECI. Read

Nicaragua monitors microseismic activity Increase in Volcano
Nicaraguan Experts reported Sunday more seismic activity at Masaya volcano, about 20 kilometers south of Managua, with an increase in expulsions of sulfur gases, which keeps the disaster warning system in high alert. Read

Mexico: Popocatépetl volcano activity update: ongoing ash and steam emissions, occasional explosions
CENAPRED reported that gas-and-steam plumes, occasionally containing ash, rose from Popocatépetl during 25-29 April. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Colombia takes step in the right direction with new disaster law
 A new National Disaster Risk Management law has been approved by authorities of Colombia, significantly shifting the positioning of the National Response and Prevention System. Read

Independent Review of the U.S. Government Response to the Haiti Earthquake - Final Report
The ultimate objective of the study is to improve the U.S. Government response to global catastrophes by informing decision makers about the strengths and shortcomings of the Haiti response, and by offering recommendations about how best to organize response to major humanitarian crises. Read

Haiti - Lack of data prevents measurement of aid effectiveness
Vijaya Ramachandran and Julie Walz of the Center for Global Development provided a nice overview of the U.S government’s review of its Haiti earthquake response. They found that, while the review includes “some frank and enlightening assessments of USG [U.S. government] response and coordination,” it contained “very little discussion of aid accountability.” Read

Earthquake Plan for Mexico: An Example to Follow
The Federal Plan for Preparedness and Response to a Large-scale Earthquake or Tsunami in Mexico (also called the Earthquake Plan), will provide support and consistency to the implementation of all institutional response plans and the collective initiatives of civil society and the private sector to improve the response capacity and execute response actions in case of earthquakes. Read

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP wins victory over US government as trial is postponed until 2013
BP has won a legal fight with the US government after a judge ruled that the trial to apportion blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will not happen until 2013. Read

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Paraguay – River overflows
At least 10,000 families have been affected by floods after heavy rains caused river overflows in the Chaco region. Read

Strong quake shakes Chile, no damage reported
A powerful 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Chile's eastern port of Valparaiso early on Tuesday, shaking buildings as far away as the capital Santiago, but there were no reports of significant damage and the country's main copper mines were unaffected. Read

Volcanic activity recorded at mountain near Mexico City
Officials placed the alert at Popocatepetl -- which means "Smoking Mountain" in the native Nahuatl language -- at Yellow Level 3. This means there is a probability of explosive activity of an intermediate to high scale, an eruption of lava and a spewing of ash. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Forecasters struggle to stay a step ahead of tornadoes
Despite the latest computer technology, forecasters give tornado warnings to specific locations on average only about 15 minutes ahead of time. Nationwide, 75 percent of those warnings never pan out and even those that do give no information on how severe the tornado is likely to be. Read

Devastation across Chile as forest fires hit five-year high
In an eight-month period, forest fires accounted for the loss of 200,000 acres. Read

So-called natural disasters are not unpredictable – World Bank  
In the event of so-called natural disasters -- whether these refer to earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides or floods -- preparedness can mean the difference between simply a shock and tragic consequences for the population. Read

Human-made earthquakes reported in central U.S
The number of earthquakes in the central United States rose "spectacularly" near where oil and gas drillers disposed of wastewater underground, a process that may have caused geologic faults to slip, U.S. government geologists report. Read

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Tornadoes expected to sweep across Central U.S. tomorrow
Tornadoes and hail struck the Dallas area earlier this month, causing the cancellation of more than 1,900 flights and damaging aircraft at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Read

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Earthquakes shake Gulf of California
The quakes -- magnitude 6.9 and 6.2 -- were centered about 85 miles northeast of Guerrero Negro in the Mexican state of Baja California, or 325 miles south-southwest of Phoenix in the United States. Read

7.0-magnitude quake strikes western Mexico
The epicenter of the quake was 32 miles (51 kilometers) southwest of La Mira, Michoacan, USGS said. Read
Haiti flooding kills 6, displaces hundreds
The floods also damaged 125 homes, crops and livestock. Read

Thousands forced from homes by floods in Ecuador
Ecuador's government says floods and mudslides have caused at least 10 deaths so far this year and forced about 4,700 people to flee their homes. Read

Dominican Republic – Flash flood warnings in several provinces from downpours
The Emergency Operations Centre (COE) announced yesterday, Thursday, 12 April, that 6,155 people have had to leave their homes and 1,231 houses have been affected of which 16 have been totally destroyed in the recent heavy rains.  Read

Other Disasters Related News

Mangrove restoration protects Guyana's coast and creates a buzz
“The women, through their activities, are playing their part in protecting the sea defences on the coast, since 90 percent of our agriculture is done on the coastland,” says mangrove ranger Raymond Hinds, who is trying to educate locals about the risks from damaging mangroves. Read

Mexico - Drought hits farmers
A severe drought in Mexico that has cost farmers more than a billion dollars in crop losses alone and set back the national cattle herd for years, is just a foretaste of the drier future facing Latin America's second largest economy. Read

Biggest dam complex drained on flood fears
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) issued flash floods and mudslide warnings for Monseñor Noel, La Vega, Sanchez Ramirez and Santiago provinces and ordered forced evacuations in high risk zones, prior to draining the latter’s Tavera-Bao-Lopez Angostura dams complex in Baitoa. Read

Blackberry earthquake app rolled out in Mexico
Civil authorities in Mexico City have rolled out a free app that will warn people when an earthquake is imminent.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Unexpected torrents of rain displace over 1,000 people in Punta Arenas in Chile’s south.
A torrent of rainfall struck Punta Arenas, near the southern tip of Chile, on late Sunday night, flooding nearly 240 acres of land and culminating in the worst storm in the city had seen in 22 years. Read

Texas drought threatens agriculture
Farmers are unlikely to bring in big yields due to insufficient water as a result of an ongoing drought in the U.S. state of Texas. Watch

Cusco, Peru,  in state of emergency
The Government of Cusco declared emergency for 60 days due to the damage caused by the rain. Read  

Other Disasters Related News

Drought Takes Toll On Mexico’s Monarch Population
A new report says the number of Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico is down and the drought is part of the reason. Read

Argentina - Farmers slowly start to harvest drought-hit soy
Farmers have started harvesting soybeans but heavy rains that arrived after months of drought have slowed efforts to gather the parched crops, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said.  Read

Warmth Expected Across U.S. for Next Three Months, U.S. Says
A streak of above-normal temperatures that led to the fourth-warmest U.S. winter on record is expected to continue for the next three months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Read

U.S. tornado damage 'manageable' for insurance industry: S&P
The analysis, “Despite the Early Start to the 2012 U.S. Tornado Season, Insured Losses are Manageable for the Industry,” noted a report by catastrophe modeler EQECAT Inc. that found tornado activity through early March was more than double that of the 2005-2011 average. Read

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 09, 2012

Recent Natural Events

Severe flooding in Acre, Brazil
More than 130,000 people have been affected by floods in 10 municipalities of Acre State, Brazil. Read

Fatal floods in Ecuador
The Ecuadorian government has announced that at least 20 people have died and 65 were injured due to the flooding in Ecuador's coastal provinces. Watch

Recap of deadly U.S. tornado outbreak February 28-March 3, 2012
A deadly series of storms produced violent tornadoes that killed over 50 people from February 28 to March 3, 2012. Read

Other Disasters Related News

Dominica receives US$4.1-m CDB loan
“The new loan would help Dominica reduce risks associated with landslide and flood hazards in the Roseau Valley,” said Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President Dr Warren Smith. Read

Scientists see rise in tornado-creating conditions
According to some climate scientists, such earlier-than-normal outbreaks of tornadoes, which typically peak in the spring, will become the norm as the planet warms. Read

Simple Steps to Improving Aid Effectiveness
As donors struggle to meet their aid commitments, and the number of people around the world in need of direct humanitarian and development assistance skyrockets, many experts and activists are asking the tough question: are donors being effective? Read

Forecasters: La Niña gone by end of April, dry spell may plague US South
Texas still reeling from 2011 drought, worst in a century. Read

Solar storm strengthens Friday before it wanes; new flare heading to Earth on Sunday
Solar storms, which can’t hurt people, can disturb electric grids, GPS systems, and satellites. They can also spread colorful Northern Lights further south than usual, as the latest storm did early Friday. Read