RED CENTROAMERICANA DE INFORMACION SOBRE DESASTRES Y SALUD (CANDI)
Access to technical and scientific information is a requirement for taking the right decisions when preparing, preventing, or responding to disasters. Despite important efforts being made to improving technical capabilities and information services in Latin American and Caribbean countries, difficulties in collecting, processing and, most of all, disseminating such information continue to be significant. In parallel, the volume of information being produced about disasters and risk management is growing, and facing increased problems of dispersion, lack of organization, and quality control.
After the devastating impact of Hurrican Mitch on several Central American countries in October 1998, several organizations joined forces to strenghten information resources and services in Central America.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) started a joint effort that years later, with contibutions from other important organizations, would allow creating the Central American Network for Disasters and Health Information (CANDHI), This is CANDHI's brief history...
In year 2000, NLM contributed funding and technical expertise to give shape to a first agreement with the Regional Disaster Information Center (CRID) in order to support the strenghtening and rebuilding of information services in the countries most affected by Mitch, Honduras and Nicaragua. The other partners were CRID itself and its most important allies, PAHO/WHO and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), which also provided funding and technical assistance. Soon later El Salvador was added to the project, after being affected by earthquakes in 2001, as well as Guatemala.
This alliance soon provided visible results, thanks to a number of factors that included:
- The commmitment, interest and response of the participating national institutions, most of them health libraries from public universities in these four countries plus one NGO in El Salvador.
- A work model based on well known technologies and procedures adapted to the coutries and implemented in a sustainable fashion.
- A remarkable complementarity among the partners' contributions, where NLM contributed innovation, but also kept realistic expectations about the capabilities of the Central American participants which are still far from NLM's technological vanguard.
The intiative's success also depended on the continuous searching for new resources and partners in order to ensure continuity and growth. NLM continued to renew its support for several years. In 2004, the initiative obtained support from ECHO, the European Community Humanitarian Office, which commited an important amount of resources, channeled though PAHO/WHO, to continue strenghtening CANDHI. Panama and Costa Rica join the process and therefore all countries in this region came to have one o more information centers on this network of disasters and health information.
The CANDHI network consolidates itself as a regional initiative, with interinstitutional and multisector focus, which works towards strenghtening the national capabilities to collect, organize and disseminate of technical, educational and scientidic information about disasters and health in the Central American region. The work done to date has enabled:
- Providing a number of information centers with the knowledge, capabilities and resources needed to enable them to be reliable information providers.
- Developing and promoting the use of technological tools for the development of information products and services.
- Contributing to the creation of institutional capabilities that can guarentee a proper response to disaster and health information needs.
Some specific accomplishments are:
- Creation in each country of digital libraries with technical capabilties to digitize and process documents.
- Training of information specialists on information and network technologies to support the developed electronc resources .
- Development and consolidation of libraries, which perceived this support as a catalizer of its own efforts to grow and gain prestige and recnition within their our organizations.
- CRID has benefitted and strengthened with the experience, has won increased cresibility and enlarged its electronic information resources.
The purpose of CRID, its partners--PAHO and ISDR-- and NLM is to continue improving these services and achieve sustainability for a activities that could add value to CANDHI as a provider of quality services and information resources.
In addition to CRID, the information centers participating in CANDHI are:
Information Center of the National Commission of Disasters Prevention and Response (CNE).
Disasters Protection Center (CEPRODE)
Information Center (CEDOC), Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in El Salvador.
Library of the Faculty of Medicine, San Carlos University (USAC).
National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction (CONRED)
Disasters Information Center of the National Medical Library (CIDBIMENA), National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).
Disasters Information Center of the Northern Region University Center (CIDCURN), National Autonomous University of Honduras.
Information Center of the Health Reasearch and Education Center (CIES), National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN).
National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Leon).
National Center of Disaster Reduction Information, National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC)
Sponsorship and tecnical assistance for this program has been provided by:
The National Library of Medicine (NLM), USA
Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction for the Americas and the Caribbean (ISDR/EIRD)
European Union Humanitarian Office (ECHO)