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Executive Summary

The countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Per?, and Venezuela share common geography and borders. The mountain chain of the Andes, forming the spine of South America, links these countries creating a common geology, ecology and economic heritage. 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. Additionally, the Andes also create a formidable instability in the region by way of this geological heritage. This heritage bestows the region with extreme natural events, in particular earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.

The Project goal is to improve the quality of life for peoples of the Andes by reducing the negative impact of natural hazards (earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes). Through the project, updated and integrated geoscience and geospatial information on natural hazards will be provided for: 1- land use planning and, 2- natural hazard mitigation.

This goal is directly in keeping with one of the conclusions of the Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, April 20-22, 2001. At this meeting 34 nations of the Americas agreed that one of the hemispheres highest priorities is disaster management. The summit committed to "strengthening hemispheric co-operation and national capacities to develop a more integrated approach to the management of natural disasters. We will continue to implement policies that enhance our capacity to prevent, mitigate and respond to the consequences of natural disasters." Through MAP:GAC, the participating countries will embark on the road to addressing this hemispheric concern.

In keeping with the outcomes of the Summit of the Americas, MAP:GAC seeks to strengthen the National Geoscience Agencies of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile Colombia, Ecuador, Per?, and Venezuela, positioning them to undertake complex and demanding projects directed towards the needs of emergency planners, communities and other clients seeking up-to-date, high quality geoscience knowledge on earthquakes, landslides and volcanoes.

This institutional strengthening is in direct support of the outcomes of the follow-up meeting to the Summit held in Costa Rica December 4 - 6, 2001, where an action plan to implement the disaster management conclusions of the Summit of the Americas was devised. Furthermore, at the Costa Rica meeting it was generally recognised that dealing with disaster response had failed. As reported in the Asia disaster management news (vol. 7. No. 2-3, 2001), more and more countries are adopting a community approach. Community involvement in planning is the way of the future. Figure 1 shows the current situation in most countries. Figure 2 shows where the future lies by providing a more community oriented approach to reducing disaster vulnerability and making communities more disaster resistant. A first step to implementing community based strategies is to supply technical information on natural hazards directly to the communities (in a usable and understandable format) in order for them to make informed decisions regarding land use planning in their communities.

In addition to supplying this much needed basic geoscience data on hazards to community and emergency planners within each country, the information can be exchanged between the National Geoscience Agencies and emergency planners to their mutual benefit. Joint investigations with common goals in regions of similar geology and hazards, and from differing positions of national strength and expertise, will build stronger national institutions within each country and stronger ties between the countries and Canada. This integration of the Andean countries will allow the potential that presently resides within the member countries to come to the forefront, benefiting all of the participating nations. The Geological Survey of Canada will provide scientific counsel, offer pecialized expertise, and enhance communications between the countries through the Project.