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In 1983 the Department of Regional Development of the Organization of American States began a pilot project for reducing natural hazard vulnerability in OAS member states. This project, supported by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development, is focusing on the incorporation of natural hazard assessment and mitigation information into the integrated regional development planning process. It provides direct technical assistance to member states, designs and supports training courses, and carries out applied research in areas of atmospheric and hydrologic hazard assessment, use of remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technologies, and is increasingly focusing on urban-related natural hazard and natural resource management issues.

One of the major areas of concern in addressing regional and urban development planning needs is the use of natural hazard assessment and mitigation information in investment project formulation for international development assistance lending. Far too often proposed and funded investment projects from all sectors lack sufficient recognition of the risks posed by natural events. Such consideration of natural hazard issues is best accomplished during the project identification and preparation stages, and not as a critical review of already prepared projects which have clearly identified institutional and political constituents.

This document was prepared by the Department to help identify the major constraints and opportunities to further the use of natural hazard information during the investment project formulation process, focusing on development assistance agencies. It describes their roles, procedures, structure, and influence, and presents a strategy for promoting natural hazard assessment and mitigation in investment projects. Also included is a list of issues for discussion by CIDIE members to assist each member in defining future actions it might undertake.

This document is based on an original draft prepared for the Department by John Horberry, with subsequent work by Stephen Bender and Richard Saunier. Valuable comments on interim drafts were contributed by René Costales, Edward Echevarria, Marea Hatzioles, Gudren Huden, Alcira Kreimer, John McKenna, Albert Pritz, Alan Swan, Julia Taft, Jeremy Warford, and Janice Weber. This final version was discussed and approved for publication as a CIDIE document during the Ninth Session of CIDIE in Washington, D.C. (June 13-17, 1988).

Kirk P. Rodgers
Department of Regional Development
Organization of American States

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