WASHINGTON DC, March 23, 2010 – The World Bank has mobilized a US$400,000 grant from the Spanish Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (SFLAC) to support the initial phase of damage assessment in Chile following its February 27th 8.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The SFLAC was established by the government of Spain in 2009 to provide resources to enhance the impact of the World Bank Group’s development work in the region. The Fund also seeks to promote knowledge transfer from Spain to Latin American countries.
The funding will support the Chilean government in the critical task of gathering data and collecting images of damage on the ground prior to a full-fledged assessment of overall damages and needs at a later stage.
Additionally, the World Bank will provide technical expertise drawing on its recent emergency response to the Haiti earthquake that included a 'situation room’ to analyze aerial images and data furnished by Bank partners’ Crisis Camps --a grass-root movement of developers that provide critical solutions to communications in disaster-stricken areas.
In a preliminary visit to the affected areas Bank experts have determined that “both rural and urban populations sustained significant damages after the earthquake," said World Bank senior disaster risk management specialist Joaquin Toro. "The World Bank will support the efforts to carry out a prompt and comprehensive assessment that will be used by the authorities to advance their reconstruction plans."
Toro explained that the damage pre-assessment includes a strong component of data and high-tech imagery collection and evaluation that have proven to dramatically expedite the overall assessment process -as was the case with Haiti.
Another key part of the mission involves relying on a vast community of volunteers from Crisis Camp’s Chilean arm ‘Digitales para Chile’ and existing government resources for data collection and emergency application development. Other partners include OpenStreetMap and web giant Google.
Preliminary government estimates suggest that more than 500,000 buildings have been destroyed while thousands of roads, bridges, ports and telecommunications infrastructure are seriously damaged. The official death toll from the quake stands at 700.