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Implementation Report
Project Regions
Sub Projects

1 What is Requested from CIDA?

1.1 Background and Project Rational

The high Andean region of South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and probably Colombia) is physiographically a region of extremes. Mountain peaks rise to over 7000 m, snow accumulations are measured in 10s of metres and rainfall in metres. Even the high plateau - the Puna or Altiplano, at an average elevation of 4200 m - suffers from extreme dryness, winds and cold. Life in these regions is difficult, subsistence agriculture is the main economic activity and communities in these regions are among the poorest in South America. Per capita income in these areas is as low as $500us dollars per year. Along with the climatic extremes, this area is subject to natural disasters on a wide scale and scarcity of water on a local scale. Access to clean water remains a limiting factor for development in many regions. In the last century, earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides have killed more than 200,000 people in the participant countries, affected more than 13 million people, and caused more than 12 billion U.S. dollars in damage (Data from OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database). Earthquakes are common and great quakes (greater than M8) are known to occur on a generational time scale. Three of the largest historical earthquakes ever recorded were in Chile (M9.5; 1960), Ecuador (M8.8; 1906) and Argentina (M8.5; 1922). Volcanic eruptions are frequent, disrupting and dislocating people for weeks or months, and sometimes killing people. In the last 100 years, more than 400,000 people have been affected by eruptions. Landslides and debris flows occur repeatedly in this region of steep, unstable mountainous terrain. The 1999 landslides and floods in Venezuela killed 30,000 people, affected 600,000 people, and cost 2 billion U.S. dollars. The worst disaster in South America in the last century was a combination of an earthquake and landslide which occurred in Ancash Department, Peru 31 May 1970. This event killed more than 66,000 people, injured 143,000 and affected 3 million people; losses were evaluated at $530us million dollars. Despite their disaster-prone environment, the people of the region persevere; relocation is not a viable option, nor do the governments have the resources to undertake such an endeavour. It is through increased economic development, public planning processes and public education that the lives of these people can be bettered.

To increase the quality of life for the peoples of the Andes will take economic activity on a broad enough scale that through taxation revenues governments can provide infrastructure and other social benefits. In order to foster economic activity companies must feel that social and political stability exists in order to proceed with investment. Natural hazards and access to water form part of the complex mixture of natural, social and political factors that influence the location and type of investment. The availability and integration of updated data on natural hazards, mineral resources and ground water will help land use planning and optimize economic investment. It is expected that the information contained in these databases will be used by local governments in better planning of the placement of infrastructure and community development (hazard zonation). Appropriate mitigation strategies for large business is as important as providing information on anthropogenic and natural hazards to individual citizens - if a natural disaster destroys the economic base of a region the impact will be even greater and recovery longer. This impact is especially hard on the women and children.

1.2 Project Description

1.2.1 Project Impact

The proposed Project will, with the CIDA contribution, use Canadian experience and expertise to assist National Geoscience agencies to identify, integrate and disseminate information on natural hazards, hydrological factors and geology in specific areas to aid land use planning. Using the data for land use planning (hazard zonation) the economy and the quality of life of the citizens will be improved in these very poor regions, especially the lives of women and children who are the most affected by natural disasters. Additionally, it is expected that the information contained in these databases will be used by local governments to provide information to citizens on the impact of natural hazards prior to events occurring so the impact of a disaster is reduced and for governments to develop and adopt policies based on scientific information to protect the public.

1.2.2 Project Outcome

The Project will build the capability of the National Geoscience agencies to assess natural hazards and provide derivative products to provide direct health and safety information to citizens, assist communities in land use planning and to aid economic development, thus increasing the tax base for these poor regions. Specific activities and products will vary between countries as each has their own unique capabilities and strengths. The Project will tailor the activities and products to facilitate these differences, but will strive to create products that have longevity and maximum impact. The proposed products can be grouped under four main headings: 1. Scientific; 2. Educational; 3. Intra and inter-government communication, and 4. Project communication products. Additional details can be found below and examples of specific products can be found in the Annex.

1.2.3 Project Key Results

This Project will provide data necessary for community planners and governments to make informed decisions regarding use of ground water, mineral resources and placement of infrastructure to reduce the impact of disasters on the local population and to optimize economic investment. The following data are anticipated:
  • Identification of natural hazards and ground water resources in specific areas of the Andes.
  • Updated inventories on anthropogenic infrastructure, natural hazards, and mineral, groundwater and geothermal resources.
These data will form the basis of most of the information used to produce the products under the scientific heading (1. Scientific; 2. Educational; 3. Intra and inter-government communication, and 4. Project communication products). These products will fall into three main areas;
  1. scientific information which will be disseminated by digital and paper means as appropriate,
  2. tools for decision makers which will take the form of databases and simulation software, and
  3. specific scientific training.
Specific examples of the types of products that might be anticipated can be found in Annex, Tab 1. But, the end result will be an integrated, "smart" searchable, GIS (geographic information system) web based database to provide community planners and other government officials with accurate and up-to-date information collected during the project. This will provide the scientific background necessary for selection of sites for community development and of infrastructure such as roads, industrial complexes and resource extraction plants.

Baseline data collected. Will be used to produce educational products. These products can also be grouped into three subcategories; a) products targeted at formal institutional education, b) training programs for skilled user groups, and c) community education products of broad application. Specific examples of the types of products envisioned can be found in Annex, Tab 2.

For Intra and inter-government communication, emphasis will be placed on facilitating cooperation between levels of government nationally and internationally. This will most likely take the form of creating intergovernmental cooperation documents to deal with specific natural hazards. The "Interagency Volcanic Event Notification Plan" created by Canada to deal both national and internationally with the hazard of airborne volcanic ash (a cross border, international issue) is an example of such a product (see Annex, Tab 3). Finally, in any large and complex project such as this proposed undertaking, communication between the participants is of paramount importance. This communication will be facilitated by at least two different products - a web page and a monthly newsletter. Examples of both can be found in Annex, Tab 4.

1.2.4 Project Delivery Strategy

The Project will proceed on several discreet activities: a. Each country will first choose an area in the high Andes to focus studies and provide a testing ground for expansion of the Project to other regions. The Project participants will draw from current staff members of each Agency. The participation of both genders, at all levels within the Project, will be strongly encouraged. To encourage the involvement of young people in the Project each participating country hopes to be partnered with other local agencies and universities. Through University partnerships it is expected that professors will help in the studies and use the Project as a training vehicle for students. Within each of the chosen areas, a local school will be selected to provide direct access to the local population, specifically children, at a level suitable for infusion of ideas into the community. By choosing school aged children, there is a higher probability of reaching the adult population, particularly mothers, with vital information on natural hazards which may directly affect the lives of their families.

The chosen areas will then be subject to an inventory collection stage where data will be collected from existing sources and by field based studies (where appropriate) on a number of different subjects. These inventories will include:
  • anthropogenic information including town planning and industrial site information
  • hydrological (groundwater) resources, including geothermal resources
  • mineral inventory information
  • significant archeological site information
  • known localized natural hazards such as volcanoes and landslides and anthropogenic hazard sources such as abandoned mine tailings
These data will be combined with topography and geology to provide a spatial reference frame for the information. Then, using existing proven technology, developed in Canada, and adapting the North American Data Model, this information will be integrated into a smart digital database, searchable and capable of integrating spatial (GIS), temporal and point data available in a web based format (a specific example is CORDLINK and see Annex , Tab 1 for other examples).

b. This inventory collection stage will serve to further focus the studies on those items most relevant for specific sectors and where significant progress can be made in improving the quality of life through increased knowledge. Once these sectors are identified, gathering of new information pertinent to the identification and quantification of natural hazards and/or ground water resources existing in the area will commence. These can be developed into specific products such as the "LAHARZ" program shown in Annex, Tab 1, modified to suit the specific hazard(s) and needs of the area.

c. Where appropriate, an assessment of monitoring techniques and their applicability to the region in question will also be studied including possible implementation investigated.