This is in response to the recent deadly landslips in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian government said on January 18 that it would accelerate efforts to devise a national system for preventing disasters and alerting the population quickly when they occur, in response to the deadly landslides in the state of Rio de Janeiro last week that killed at least 710 people.

President Dilma Rousseff met with ministers and announced the government's plan to improve its disaster readiness, which will include maps of high-risk areas, better training and improved collection of data on meteorological conditions. The national system will be completely in place in four years, but it is expected to produce results by next year, the government said.

The announcement appeared to be a response to news reports that a Brazilian government official had admitted to the United Nations two months ago that a large part of a promised emergency response system was not ready and that the government did not have the ability to verify the efficiency of many existing services.

Report sent to U.N.

A report sent to the United Nations by Ivone Maria Valente, the national secretary of the National Civil Defence authority, notes that almost one in four cities in Brazil lack a civil defence authority. And where a civil defence authority exists, it does not have a way to measure if it is functioning efficiently, according to the report. An official at a United Nations agency, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, provided a copy the report, whose content was first reported by the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo.

Ms Valente reported that the small number of municipal authorities created to deal with disasters made it “impossible to measure, in a reliable way,” which cities were prepared for disasters.

While the government said it had made advances in disaster preparedness, it also noted that it had not analysed the readiness of any hospital or school in preparing the report.

The lack of a risk-reduction programme “will contribute to the increasing occurrence of natural disasters” and to “increasing insecurity in local communities,” Ms Valente wrote.

Disaster experts have contended that Brazil's lack of disaster-warning systems and a general lack of preparedness was responsible for the deadly scale of the disaster last week, which with its increasing death toll has become the country's worst natural disaster. In addition to more than 700 people killed, nearly 14,000 are homeless or have abandoned their homes in Teresópolis, Nova Friburgo and Petrópolis — the three hillside towns struck hardest by the heavy rains.— © New York Times News Service

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