El Salvador, like the other five Central American countries, is exposed to a variety of natural hazards. At the request of the General Directorate of Civil Protection of El Salvador; UN-SPIDER carried out a Technical Advisory Mission to El Salvador with the support of experts from IGAC, CATHALAC, INPE, CRECTEALC and the University of Buenos Aires. The mission was carried out in San Salvador, El Salvador, between 2 and 4 April 2014 and included meetings with the Director of Civil Protection and staff of this Directorate; official visits to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment and Natural Resources, Agriculture, Health, and Public Works; as well as to the Environmental Observatory and the National Geographic Institute. In addition, the experts met with representatives of international organizations, the donor community and with students enrolled in the Master’s programme on natural hazards management conducted by the University of El Salvador.
The experts identified institutional strengths regarding the use of geographic information systems in many government agencies; the capacity of the Environmental Observatory to monitor a variety of geological and hydrometeorological hazards, the capacity of the Civil Protection Directorate to react to disasters, the display of geospatial information through geoviewers. They also took note of the on-going efforts conducted by the National Geographic Institute to develop a spatial database infrastructure as a way to facilitate the exchange of data and information among institutions; and efforts conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to channel international cooperation on this topic of disaster risk reduction. Considering that space applications are used only by a few government agencies, the experts identified the need to enhance the skills and knowledge of staff in government agencies on the use of such applications and the need to consider the establishment of an inter-institutional group composed of staff of such government agencies and other institutions as a way to build a critical mass in the country that is then able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the space community as a way to generate relevant space-based information to support efforts conducted in all phases of the disaster management cycle.