Omar Dario Cardona, M. Liliana Carreño


Disaster risk is most detailed at a micro-social or territorial scale. As we aggregate and work at more macro scales, details are lost. However, decision-making and information needs at each level are quite different, as are the social actors and stakeholders. This means that appropriate evaluation tools are necessary to make it easy to understand the problem and guide the decision-making process. It is fundamentally important to understand how vulnerability is generated, how it increases and how it accumulates. Performance benchmarks are also needed to facilitate decision makers’ access to relevant information as well as the identification and proposal of effective policies and actions. The Disaster Risk Management Indicators Program for the Americas meets this need and the results obtained for most countries of the Americas are presented.

Four components or composite indicators have been designed to represent the main elements of vulnerability and show each country’s progress in managing risk. They are the ‘Disaster Deficit Index’, the ‘Local Disaster Index’, the ‘Prevalent Vulnerability Index’, and the ‘Risk Management Index’. These indicators reflect the organizational, development, capacity and institutional actions taken to reduce vulnerability and losses, to prepare for crisis and to recover efficiently from disasters.

In this way, the system of indicators covers different areas of the risk problem, taking into account issues such as: potential damages and losses resulting from extreme events; recurrent disasters or losses; social and environmental conditions that make particular countries or regions more disaster prone; the capacity of the economy to recover; the operation of key services; institutional capacity and the effectiveness of basic risk management instruments (such as risk identification, prevention and mitigation measures, financial mechanisms and risk transfer); emergency response levels; and preparedness and recovery capacity.

The system of indicators proposed for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and applied to the countries of the Americas permits a systematic and quantitative benchmarking of each country during different periods between 1980 and 2008.


Indicators, Risk Assessment, Risk Management, Disasters, Vulnerability, Natural Hazards, Risk Modelling

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