ELLA Policy Brief: Institutionalising Disaster Risk Management: Latin America’s Systems Approach


Against a backdrop of inadequate disaster preparedness and repeated humanitarian aid interventions, Latin American countries have driven forward the institutionalisation and mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in public policy. Based on a systems approach, Latin American governments are establishing coherent policy and regulatory frameworks for DRM focused on improving coordination between public institutions, harnessing and building expertise, modernising investment systems and securing commitment and participation from multiple stakeholders. This Brief begins by describing how approaches to DRM in Latin America have evolved from purely responsive actions to broad institutional reforms aimed at mainstreaming disaster prevention and mitigating risk. It then provides an analysis of the main characteristics of this systems approach, describing how it has facilitated the institutionalisation of DRM into public policy in Latin America and providing key examples from across the region. Finally, the Brief describes the major contextual factors that have facilitated these processes, identifies on-going challenges and offers lessons learned that may be useful for other countries and regions.

Key Lessons:

DRM can be successfully integrated into the daily operations of existing public institutions and can build on the comparative strengths and capacities of different public, private and social actors.

Institutional reforms for DRM should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between risk management and development objectives.


Watanabe, M. ELLA Policy Brief: Institutionalising Disaster Risk Management: Latin America’s Systems Approach. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 7 pp.

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