Home Natural Hazard Management Three cities win UN award for disaster preparedness

Three cities win UN award for disaster preparedness

Geneva, Switzerland: The cities of San Francisco (Philippines), Santa Fe (Argentina), and District of North Vancouver (Canada), won the United Nations-Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction. The cities were awarded at a special ceremony on the second last day of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland.

San Francisco, a small coastal city prone to typhoons, won USD 25,000, and was chosen for its innovative use of the Purok system, a traditional method of self-organisation within villages where members voluntarily contribute to a money bank used by those in need of emergency funds after a disaster. Also, with limited access to the Internet, cellphones and radios, the Purok system is used to disseminate information and risk assessments, with Purok coordinators acting as couriers of information to residents.

One of two cities receiving USD 12,500 was Santa Fe, a city frequently hit by floods, which was recognised for effectively communicating risk to everyday citizens. In areas with many informal settlers, several thousand have been “regularised” and given certificates of occupancy, debt cancellation certificates and sale contracts for their homes. Scores of families in zones not protected by flood embankments have been relocated in this way.

The District of North Vancouver, which experienced a landslide in 2005, also received USD 12,500. Mayor Richard Walton from the District of North Vancouver demonstrated city’s GIS Website, where one can access mapping, census, land, environmental, zoning, building and other valuable information that is stored in the District’s GIS. The city’s stated goal – acknowledged by the jury – is to provide “as much information where possible to our community.”

Other winners included the city of Bhubaneswar (India), and the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority, ERRA, an initiative of the Pakistan Government with support from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), which both received a letter of recommendation. The Coordination Centre for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America, CEPREDENAC, which is based in Guatemala, received a letter of merit.

Source: United Nations