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Radio Story: Hidroituango Dam, Colombia

This broadcast by Voces Unidas features the UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit during a deployment mission in Colombia to address a series of incidents at the Hidroituango Dam.

During the Spring of 2018, heavy rains in Colombia led to a series of incidents at the Hidroituango Dam, still under construction. On May 2018, Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development formally requested technical assistance to UN Environment, leading the UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit to deploy a team of experts to provide specialized advice on emergency dam operations, with support from the European Commission and Swiss Development Cooperation.

Voces Unidas, the United Nations’ radio in Colombia, issued a broadcast about environmental emergencies with a special focus on the emergency response for the Hidroituango Dam burst risks. The broadcast was aired live at the presence of UN Environment Head of Office in Colombia, Juan Bello, and featured Luis Gilberto Murillo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development; Claudia Victoria Gonzáles, Director of the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA); Alexandra Gómez, one of the deployed experts; Dan Stothart, team leader and Regional Coordinator of UN Environment’s Disasters and Conflicts Sub-programme; Margherita Fanchiotti, focal point for operations at the UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit; Alfonso Lozano from the European Commission’s Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (DG-ECHO); and Fabrizio Poretti, Chief of Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) in Colombia.

The team was composed of three civil engineers, one geologist and one UN Environment team leader. The experts contributed to risk management by providing technical recommendations on emergency operations at the site and on the measures to implement on the longer term to mitigate risk, by contributing to the identification of alert levels for monitoring and prevention during the emergency, as well as on the means to strengthen monitoring and follow-up.

This broadcast (in Spanish) is an opportunity to learn more about the UNEP/ OCHA Joint Unit’s response missions and the expert deployment process. The broadcast can be accessed, consulted and downloaded here.

For more information, please contact the UN Environment/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Joint Unit at ochaunep@un.org.

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