Map of The Americas and Caribbean Region
UNICEF photo: A small boy, in flood water up to his neck, holds on to a ledge outside his flooded home, in Nucleo 38 Village in the district of San Julian in Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia. © UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0408/Abramson A small boy, in flood water up to his neck, holds on to a ledge outside his flooded home, in Nucleo 38 Village in the district of San Julian in Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Updated January 2014

2014 Requirements: US$:3,500,000

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Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a region which suffers from significant inequality, is highly vulnerable to a wide range of hazards, including natural disasters and violence. In Central America and the Caribbean, recurrent hurricanes and tropical storms affect local populations and also increase the vulnerability of displaced people, especially children, still living in fragile conditions in Haiti. Since 2010, a cholera epidemic has continued to spread in LAC, with the largest caseloads in Haiti (684,085 cases since October 2010), the Dominican Republic (31,090 cases since November 2010), Cuba (678 cases since July 2012) and Mexico (180 cases since September 2013).1 Faced with recurrent disasters, the poorest and most vulnerable populations repeatedly suffer loss of livelihoods, which undermines modest development gains and leaves populations in continuous cycles of poverty. Throughout the region, prolonged droughts increase the risk of nutritional crises. Disasters hamper access to proper water and sanitation services, undermining children’s health (e.g. water borne diseases, cholera, dengue and other epidemics), interrupting access to education and increasing the risk of violence, exploitation and abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence. In Colombia, despite ongoing peace talks between the Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), the armed conflict continues to provoke forced displacement, landmine-related accidents and child recruitment by armed groups.

Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$2.85 million for 2013, and as of the end of October 2013, a total of US$1,576,739, or 55 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. The past year’s efforts focused on strengthening emergency preparedness and response capacity through support to nine country offices ahead of and during the hurricane season. LACRO supported country-level preparedness by helping offices finalize their online Early Warning, Early Action systems; supporting the organization of simulation initiatives in Barbados, Guyana and Colombia; and supporting inter-agency pilot simulations on the IASC Transformative Agenda led by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with the Nicaragua and Peru Humanitarian Country Teams. As co-leads of the regional WASH working group, LACRO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) undertook a regional mapping of national actors and capacities to focus capacity development efforts. To strengthen national capacities on child protection in emergencies, LACRO conducted regional workshops on coordination and training in Barbados and Bolivia and on child-friendly spaces in El Salvador, and also helped to establish a new inter-agency working group in El Salvador. LACRO supported 18 country offices to strengthen the capacities of ministries of education and civil protection institutions to promote safe schools, the right to education in emergencies and school emergency plans. LACRO also developed a child-centred disaster risk management toolkit to help country offices integrate disaster risk reduction into their programmes. In cooperation with the organization RET, LACRO developed a technical guidance note titled ‘Actions for Children and Youth Resilience’, to support governments to identify key actions to better integrate disaster risk reduction into their national policies and strategies. Working with the Coalition for Resilience of Children and Youth in LAC (CORELAC) and the Brazil Country Office, LACRO organized a meeting with 11 countries and additional sub-regional bodies to promote an exchange of experiences among governments and identify areas of mutual support. The efforts of LACRO and the Brazil Country Office at the Sixth Regional Meeting on International Mechanisms for Humanitarian Assistance, Kingston, Jamaica, 16-18 October 2013, led to the final declaration’s call for governments and sub-regional mechanisms in the region to strengthen south-to-south and horizontal cooperation in humanitarian action.

LAC is composed of high, middle and low income countries with varying levels of capacity for preparedness and response, and as a result, requires flexible support mechanisms. Accordingly, in cooperation with partners from the Risk Emergency Disaster Working Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (REDLAC), the LAC Regional Office (LACRO), will provide UNICEF country offices with quality support and technical advice to strengthen preparedness and response. This will involve: reviewing countries’ preparedness levels through the online Early Warning, Early Action system; identifying the necessary operational support (e.g. supply and human resources); and providing in-country support on preparedness, response and, when needed, simulations. Support to country offices will aim to improve the efficiency of responses by strengthening the understanding and application of UNICEF policies, humanitarian reform and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Transformative Agenda. Particular focus will be given to countries in Central America and the Caribbean that are most affected by recurrent emergencies with devastating impacts.

LACRO and its regional partners will continue to support UNICEF country offices and humanitarian country teams through the work of Panama-based regional emergency working groups focused on disaster risk reduction, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and nutrition, to strengthen national capacity in and across sectors/clusters. Working through these groups will enable LACRO to contextualize and disseminate global sector/cluster policies and tools, as well the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action principles, to support the development of national disaster management policies. LACRO will work in close coordination with country offices and relevant government institutions, to strengthen disaster risk reduction programming in education, child protection, WASH and nutrition. Specifically, support to countries will focus on: the promotion of school safety preparedness and innovative water and sanitation systems; strengthened surveillance and early detection and treatment of malnutrition in areas prone to drought and natural disaster; and the development of national capacities in the areas of social cohesion, violence reduction and the prevention of all forms of child abuse in emergencies. LACRO will continue to advance cooperation with regional and national counterparts, building from and following up on recent exchanges of mutual support, knowledge, skills, resources, technology and information on preparedness, response and risk reduction. Eleven countries presented these experiences at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Fourth Session, Geneva, Switzerland, 19-23 May 2013.

Funding requirements

LACRO is requesting US$3.5 million for 2014 to continue strengthening country office capacity in preparedness, response and disaster risk reduction, especially in the areas where UNICEF has global sector/cluster responsibility. Activities carried out will be undertaken in coordination with regional REDLAC partners, humanitarian country teams and national and sub-regional actors, where possible. In addition, regional funding may be used by country offices to respond to situations elsewhere in the region that are not included in a separate chapter of Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 and may not benefit from inter-agency flash appeals to respond to small- or medium-size emergencies.

1 Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, Epidemiological Update: Cholera (PAHO and WHO, October 2013).