Develop an action plan in case of disaster

Ambato is the most central city of Ecuador located in the Sierra in the middle of the volcanoes chain, so the town is particularly sensitive to seismic and volcanic risks. From the city center we can see together the Tungurahua volcano (5023m, active) in the south-east, the Chimborazo (6268m, the highest in Ecuador) in the south-west and the Cotopaxi (5897m, active) in the north .

The closest, the Tungurahua, is perfectly monitored by a network of local observators who are connected to the Tungurahua Observatory runned by scientists. However, in Ambato the risk is low, only make by receiving cold ashes, because of the distance. The cities in the west of the volcano are more exposed because of the prevailing winds.

On the other hand the seismic risk is real, linked or not to the volcanic activity. The earthquake of August 5, 1949 of magnitude 8 killed more than 5000 people in Ambato and almost all the buildings of the city were destroyed, as well as a lot of municipalities located around Ambato. Since last November, three times we felt trembling the earth , but weakly enough not to cause damage.

The population is very conscious about the volcanic risk

In Ambato the Risk Management Unit of the municipality is really well organized, and works in coordination with the Risk Management Secretariat. One person has been responsible since last year for a review – or simply creation in some cases – of the risk management agenda, in every municipality of the canton. The first step is to elect within each municipality (parroquia) a risk management committee who can be trained in order to be able to organize and act in any identified cases of emergency or disaster, natural or man-made.

We work with her in different municipalities, first in the identification of their risks. Then, we determine preventive actions to be carried out, and finally a plan of action and emergency is built for the case of a disaster.

It appears that the population is very conscious about the volcanic risk while the seismic risk is a bit
ignored, forgotten more or less consciously.

The theme of safe construction is also mostly ignored by the building trades people who pay more attention at their profit, than about the recommendations of the municipal architects and town planners. Also it appears that prevention does not exist, or very little, in rural schools. We are working until the Latacunga region with the Plan International Foundation, they have a very good network there.

In Ambato, the main actors in the management and prevention of natural hazards are the Risk Management Secretariat, who controls what is doing the Municipality’s Risk Management Unit, the firefighters and the Red Cross.