Latin America and Caribbean


Natural-colour Sentinel-2A image of Mexico City and surroundings. Image: Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Under the annual theme "Towards A Safer Urban Future", the 2nd Resilient Infrastructure Forum took place in Colombia from 4 to 6 June 2019. The Forum aimed to develop a coordinated long-term strategy to overcome challenges posed by disasters, such as severe storms, tsunamis or earthquakes in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the event, UN-SPIDER underlined the benefits of space-based information for understanding the exposure of coastal urban infrastructure to natural hazards and highlighted how land-use changes, which can be observed through a combination of space data and aerial photography, lead to more frequent and more intense floods in cities in the region.

By enhancing the capacity of the region's institutions and private sector to plan, design and implement investments in... read more

Publishing Date: 06/06/2019

As part of the technical advisory support it provides to countries worldwide in making use of space-based information for disaster management, UN-SPIDER carries out an Institutional Strengthening Mission to Ecuador from 8 to 12 April 2019 upon the request of the Government of Ecuador. This activity is jointly organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency... read more

Publishing Date: 08/04/2019
Gas emissions at Volcán Copahue, captured on January 5, 2013 using EO-1 ALI data from the NASA EO-1 team.

To predict when a volcano will erupt, researchers rely on indirect signals. However, without long-term and ground-based... read more

Publishing Date: 04/04/2019

As part of it advisory support activities, UN-SPIDER is carrying out out a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) to Peru from 1 to 5 April to evaluate the current and potential use of space-based information in all aspects of disaster management. Based on exchanges with a wide range of stakeholders, UN-SPIDER will provide recommendations as to how to strengthen the use of space-based information in disaster risk management and emergency response in the country.

The team of experts led by UN-SPIDER is conducting multiple activities and institutional visits in Lima. The team is comprised of eight experts from UN-SPIDER; the German Aerospace Centre... read more

Publishing Date: 01/04/2019
Image of the eruption and resulting ash plume of the Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala captured by the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite on 3 June 2018. Image: NASA Earth Observatory

Satellites from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are monitoring the eruption of Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) in Guatemala that has killed at least 69 people since it started erupting on 3 June 2018.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the joint NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-... read more

Publishing Date: 06/06/2018
Logo of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters"

The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” has been activated for Guatemala’s Fuego volcano on 5 June.

Guatemala’s most powerful eruption in 100 years has killed at least 69 people with many more missing, according to local reports.

A state of emergency has been declared with the eruption, which started on Sunday, cascaded vast clouds... read more

Publishing Date: 05/06/2018

The European Commission has signed Cooperation Arrangement with Colombia, Chile and Brazil. Under the arrangements, the three countries will gain access to the wide range of applications of the Copernicus Earth observation programme and data provided by the European Sentinel satellites using connections between data centres.

With the arrangements, the European Commission aims to grant access to the three Latin American countries to data provided by Sentinel satellites. All three cooperation arrangements include reciprocity clauses that benefit the parties. As for Brazil, this reciprocity clause will allow the Copernicus programme full, free and open access to... read more

Publishing Date: 14/03/2018

The Executive Secretariat of Guatemala’s National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction (SE-CONRED), the National Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACYT), the National Authority for the Sustainable Management of Amatitlan Lake (AMSA) and the Institute of Environmental Studies of the Faculty of Agriculture of the San Carlos University of Guatemala (IAA-USAC) are joining forces to conduct a training course on the use of radar imagery to map the extent of floods. The training course is being conducted in the GIS Laboratory of IAA-USAC from 16 to 19 October 2017 by instructors from the Federal University of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (UFSM), and from the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute of Colombia (IGAC).

The training course focuses on the use of the UN-SPIDER... read more

Publishing Date: 19/10/2017
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Hurricane Maria

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) - Mapping and the International Charter Space and Major Disasters have been activated for Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm, as it made landfall on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Category 5 is the highest grade on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. With sustained wind of 252 km/h or higher, category 5 hurricanes are expected to cause extensive damage. Hurricane Maria is the second maximum strength storm in the Atlantic this this month and has caused... read more

Publishing Date: 19/09/2017
Regional expert meeting Latin America and Caribbean

A regional expert meeting to continue promoting the use of space-based technologies in disaster risk reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean kicked off today in Mexico City. The event under the title "Enhancing the use of Space-based information in Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems" is run by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), through its UN-SPIDER progamme, and the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), with the support of Mexico’s National Centre for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) and the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the... read more

Publishing Date: 11/07/2017
Floods in Costa Rica. Image: NASA archive.

The International Charter Space and Major Disasters have been activated in Costa Rica on 28 November 2016 due to the consequences of Hurricane Otto. The activation was requested by USGS on behalf of National Emergency Committee Costa Rica. UN-SPIDER contributed with Costa Rica to activate the charter and is permanently giving technical support to that country.

Heavy rain, floods, landslides, destruction, some 6000 displaced people and nine victims left the... read more

Publishing Date: 30/11/2016
Floods in Central America. Image: NASA archive

The International Charter Space and Major Disasters have been activated on 21 November 2016 due to several days of heavy rain in Panama. The activation was requested by the United States Geological Survey.

The National Civil Protection System of the country (SINAPROC) issued alerts for the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro and Veraguas and SINAPROC teams have evacuated several communities living along the Chiriqui Viejo river. According to the FloodList portal, the floods  damaged houses and forced affected people to evacuate to temporary shelters in different districts.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica the National Emergency Commission (CNE) also declared a... read more

Publishing Date: 24/11/2016
Costa Rica regions in alert. Image: CNE

On 21 Monday 2016 the Otto tropical storm formed in the Caribbean and could reach the hurricane category. The U.S. National Hurricane Center estimated the storm to reach Nicaragua and Costa Rica on Thursday. The storm might strength within the next 48 hours therefore becoming a hurricane in the following days. Reuters reported that the almost-stationary storm, with sustained winds of 80 kilometers per hour, was some 282 km east-southeast of the San Andres Island. For more information on this storm click here

On Wednesday 23 November 2016 the Costa Rica Government declared the national state of... read more

Publishing Date: 24/11/2016
Drought in Honduras. Courtesy of CIAT

8.2 million people have been affected by natural disasters from January to August 2016 in Latin America and the Caribbean according to the “Humanitarian Bulletin” for the region, a publication of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently.

Bolivia’s increased drought problems are affecting more than 740,000 inhabitants in different regions including the east and south parts of the country. In Central America, a region also affected by drought, people hope that food security will improve with the first 2017 harvests. Although strong, La Nina predictions have decreased and with them the expectations of climate-related disasters and floods. Until the end of August 2016 there were ten... read more

Publishing Date: 10/11/2016
South America. Image courtesy of NASA

During the past decades Latin America countries like Argentina and Brazil have been active in launching satellites for Earth observation .  In recent years, a satellite receiving station was established in Chetumal, Mexico. 

In recent years countries  in this region have been engaged in the development of observation tools. Venezuela and Chile have launched Earth observation satellites and Venezuela is also working on a next satellite generation with the contribution of China. This year Peru launched its first observation satellite PeruSat-1 under the direction of Gustavo Henriquez. The... read more

Publishing Date: 29/10/2016
Panama's map. Courtesy of NASA

On 20 October 2016 the International Charter Space and Major Disaster was activated due to floods in Panama. The request of activation was due to heavy rain in the Darien and Tonosi province. The situation can worsen because more rain is expected on the following days. The activation of the charter was requested by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of the Tropic Humid Water Center for Latin America and the Caribbean or CATHALAC for its acronym in Spanish. Approximately 3.500 people have been affected and there are no victims, reported the local daily La Prensa. More information on the topic ... read more

Publishing Date: 21/10/2016
7th Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adpatation. Courtesy of CATHALAC

Our Latin American and Caribbean Regional Support Office, CATHALAC, participated in the 7th Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation from 6 to 8 July 2016 in Bonn. The main purpose was to share experiences and solutions on how a city can be resilient or in other words be prepared to face and... read more

Publishing Date: 21/10/2016
Hurricane Matthew 2016, Haiti. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory
On 3 October 2016 the Copernicus Emergency Management Service was activated at the request of the European Commission' services for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. 

The storm, which has already affected other Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic and Cuba, triggered floods, landslides and fatalities. According to Euronews the storm, now on its way to the Bahamas and the USA, is weakening and has been reduced from a category four to a three hurricane. More information is available here

On 6 October 2016 the Copernicus Emergency Management... read more
Publishing Date: 06/10/2016
Hurricane Matthew development. Courtesy of NASA/NOAA GOES Project
On 3 October 2016 the International Charter Space and Major Disasters was activated due to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The request for activation was due to heavy rain and winds reaching up to 145 mph. Haiti, a country susceptible to floods, has already experienced the consequences of the storm with three deaths, missing fisherman and several thousands of people evacuated.    The activation of the Charter was requested by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of the Pacific Disaster Center, the latest being nominated as Project Manager for this Charter activation.     

On 5 October 2016 the International Charter Space and Major Disasters was... read more

Publishing Date: 05/10/2016
Hurricane Matthew 2016. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory
Matthew, currently a category 4 hurricane, has already impacted Haiti, a country still recovering from a devastating earthquake on 2010; as well as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. According to the BBC, authorities in these countries warned people to be prepared for this very powerful hurricane. Other countries that will feel the impact of the Hurricane include: Cuba and the United States. More information on this topic is available here.      CNN reported that there are already three victims and missing people. Matthew is now moving towards Cuba and might affect the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas. The Cuban government has taken measures to be prepared as it expects the hurricane to landfall in the following hours. More details from CNN regarding Matthew are available here.
Publishing Date: 05/10/2016
Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Adam Voiland.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) caught images of smoke in Latin America. 
Fires were reported on 25 August 2016 in Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Those fires probably resulted from the land-clearing practices for crops or pastures. Bolivia declared a state of emergency... read more
Publishing Date: 01/09/2016
Image courtesy of NASA, Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Pola Lem.

On the beginning of July 2016, airborne dust reached the coast of Chile. This phenomenon hardly ever occurs in the west coast of South America, according to atmospheric researchers.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) captured some natural-color images of the event on the 8 of July.

The dust source seems to be located between the Andes mountain range in South... read more

Publishing Date: 27/07/2016
Director of UNOOSA visits El Salvador

Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, carried out an official visit to El Salvador, which was arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Vienna as a follow-up to the recent incorporation of El Salvador as a member of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  He mission to El Salvador served to provide visibility to the on-going efforts conducted by UNOOSA and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to define the 2030 Space Agenda through the UNISPACE+50 process.

Two key activities in her visit included presentations to high ranking officers in government ministries and technical staff on the role and activities conducted by UNOOSA and the on-going UNISPACE+50 process.  In addition, the opportunity was used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador and UNOOSA to sign an memorandum of agreement as a way to... read more

Publishing Date: 19/07/2016

UN-SPIDER published a new recommended practice in its Knowledge Portal outlining detailed step-by-step procedures to support drought monitoring. The practice was developed by researchers from the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil (UFSM).  The procedure has been used to elaborate drought-related maps for Brazil in recent years.

With this recommended practice, one more milestone was reached within the Strengthening Early Warning Systems for Droughts (SEWS-D) project. The SEWS-D project aims to contribute to the institutionalization and the improvement of EWS dedicated to drought through the incorporation of the routine use of satellite information... read more

Publishing Date: 17/02/2016
El Niño-influenced hurricane Olaf approaching Mexico (courtesy NASA)

The ongoing El Niño event is already classed as one of the strongest in recent decades. El Niño usually peaks around Christmas and has in the past been known to cause prolonged droughts and extreme rainfall events in several regions of the world. These consequences have further negative effects on food security, infrastructure, water availability, and people’s livelihoods. Because El Niño is a recurring event and because of past experiences, areas that are usually hit the hardest have now taken actions to mitigate its effects.

Latin America is already experiencing a number of extreme weather events during the last recent months. Several areas in Central America have been hit by drought, affecting around 3.5 million people and leaving more than 2 million people needing food aid. The situation is aggravated due to the lack of... read more

Publishing Date: 22/12/2015


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