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Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction at Local Level


UN Photo/Evan SchneiderOver the past 20 years disasters have affected 4.4 billion people, caused USD 2 trillion of damage and killed 1.3 million people.

Disasters have affected people living in developing countries and, in particular, the most vulnerable communities within these countries.

Particularly in the context of increased urbanization, urban risk continues to rise. The vulnerability of cities to disasters is growing especially as poor people settle in high-risk urban areas. Unfortunately, the planning and development of cities has given little consideration to the consequences of hazards such as earthquakes, hydro-meteorological risks and others. The implication of this reality is the need for countries to focus on creating a safer world for urban dwellers and developing a series of innovative approaches to build resilience.


With the objective of enhancing the capacities of governments and communities to better respond to disasters and reduce risks, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has been working on two fronts, (1) providing advanced technologies and applications to reduce disaster impact by monitoring situations before, during and after disasters, while building resilience; (2) providing training opportunities for government officials in the most vulnerable regions to disasters- Latin American and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific.

Decentralized Cooperation Programme

Capacity development is a vital strategy for implementing disaster risk reduction initiatives. UNITAR’s Decentralized Cooperation Programme (DCP) provides training opportunities to government officials at the local and national level to enhance their capacity to reduce disaster risk by:

  1. Strengthening Capacities
    DCP offers training courses to strengthen the capacities of government officials, especially those at the local level, and disaster management professionals to design and implement plans and programmes that reduce disaster risk and enhance resilience. Training courses are delivered face-to-face, on-line and through blended methodologies.
  2. Facilitating Dialogue
    In partnership with academic institutions, governments and international organizations, DCP contributes to facilitate the exchange of best practices, experiences and approaches to better manage disasters.
  3. Promoting Collaboration
    In addition to training activities delivered by DCP, the Programme further provides training opportunities through its global network of training centres called “CIFAL”. One key objective of the CIFAL Centres is to encourage city-to-city collaboration and cooperation amongst governments, universities, research/training institutions, international organizations and the private sector to develop more effective disaster response and preparedness strategies.

The CIFAL Global Network

CIFAL Global NetworkThe CIFAL training centres provide innovative training throughout the world on areas ranging from education to urban planning, disaster preparedness to food security, and climate change among others.

CIFAL Centres specializing on disaster risk management include:

  • CIFAL Jeju, South Korea

Offers training to local governments from Asia-Pacific on how to integrate climate change adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction principles into urban planning.

  • CIFAL El Salvador

Offers training to local government officials from Latin America on the key role municipalities play in reducing disaster risk and how to create resilient cities.

  • CIFAL Merida

Offers training to government officials, airport authorities and civil aviation officials on how to better prepare airports and communities from Mexico and Latin America in the event of disasters caused by hurricanes.

  • CIFAL Quito

Offers opportunities for knowledge exchange among local and regional government officials from Ecuador and Latin America on how to strengthen resilience to disasters and to climate change.

For more information, contact: Estrella Merlos at estrella.merlos< at >unitar.org

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider