Creation of the Disaster Risk Management and Community Development Departments within the Local Governments


CBDRM created the departments of Disaster Risk Management and Community Development as a result of the lack of follow-up, commitment, integration, and awareness of risk management issues within local governments in Panama.

The activities were proposed through a national assessment within the 77 municipalities, and included:

  • Continuous awareness days within the local governments
  • Signature of the municipal agreement and of the council for the creation of the departments of risks
  • Written appointment of the staff
  • Nunicipal agreement of the district law regarding the creation of a Risk Commission within the council (sustained in the Law 66 of 2015, Article 30, numeral 5)
  • 10 trainings for the staff.

The Association of Municipalities of Panama, driven by various efforts, carried the burden of funding.

Multiple actors were involved such as strategic alliances to strengthen local capacities, including USAID/OFDA/LAC, UNISDR, UNDP, Ideas Medias, Universidad Tecnológica and GPS consulting.

The project was born as a pilot plan to measure several aspects, the main one being the political factor. 7 risk departments were created in the initial phase (2016-2017) and the final part of these 7 municipalities is agreed for January 2019.

The project has not been completed since there are 77 municipalities and 648 townships in the country. The project timeline is 2015-2030, with the completion of all risk departments in the municipalities at the national level planned for 2027.


The country's municipalities are the government administrative units with the greatest connection to the local population. CBDRM was designed so that the local boards in the communities are empowered to manage risk through their representatives and community risk managers (people from the community itself). Local capacities are considered and are basic to documenting the strategy they will develop. The role of local government is the closest governmental expression to the community and is fundamental for the development of a DRR strategy. There is no sustainability if this local government is not an actor since they make up the risk commission of the whole district. The activities are coordinated directly with the local authorities, the Association of Municipalities of Panama is the only national entity that is integrated by all the local authorities; the call is always possible and conclusive, since we are the consultants designated by the local leaders for their defence and strengthening (there is no entity that can provide harmony between the community and the local government such as AMUPA). The Association of Municipalities of Panama has been created to develop specific programmes and projects towards local strengthening through the Commission for Risk and Community Development.
Marginalised groups are included through the political leader and designated community development staff, under an uprising of the vulnerable zones. This is attested in the manual of roles and functioning of the risk departments. The local development boards are integrated by a person in charge of the village, designated to overview the disability issues in the locality.
The entire project is designed to involve the community in the project and to implement specific matters for risk management and reduction. This programme is designed for the municipal risk manager to monitor, coordinate and evaluate with the community risk management liaison about how specific risk management issues are developed (ongoing theme).


This programme follows on from the Risk Management and Reduction Action Plan. The Risk Management Departments, in spite of political changes within their municipal agreement, become district law and are enforced by the new risk and accountants managers.
The project did not affect the community, they are interested in it and every day there is more construction and demand for DRM.


The first signing of the local authorities' pact for risk management and sustainable development was in October 2017.