[Saving lives and alleviating suffering] Workshop to update and strengthen the capacities of SDC’s Rapid Response Intervention Group (GIAR)

SDC’s Humanitarian Aid represents Switzerland’s solidarity with communities in extreme need. It concentrates its efforts on emergency aid, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster areas and disaster risk reduction. In a spirit of neutrality, independence and impartiality, it places the victims at the centre of its action.

Participants of the GIAR Workshop held in Antigua Guatemala City, Guatemala in February 2020

The regional SDC has implemented the Rapid Response Intervention Group, which includes members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit. These rapid intervention teams identify, in the shortest possible time, the needs of the victims of crises or disasters and organise the humanitarian response and aid in the region.

The workshop for updating and strengthening the capacities of the Rapid Response and Intervention Group  was held in Antigua (Guatemala) from 24 to 27 February. Its subject was the use of innovative tools, such as satellite images and drones, which strengthen the work of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit. The headquarters in Antigua (a small city surrounded by volcanoes in southern Guatemala) gave the participants the opportunity to train in response mechanisms for the risks associated with volcanoes. They carried out field work on the Volcán de Fuego, which erupted five times in 2018, and in the June of that year wiped out an entire village, with a death toll of 194.

The workshop was attended by Edita Vokral, Ambassador to Bolivia, Rita Hämmerli-Weschke, Ambassador to Ecuador and Hans-Ruedi Bortis, Ambassador to Guatemala; Swiss Humanitarian Aid technical experts and specialised professionals from both the headquarters in Bern and the DRR&RR Hub in Lima; and active members of the RRIG Team and the Central America Local Emergency Teams from Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Haiti.

Participants of the GIAR Workshop held in Antigua Guatemala City, Guatemala in February 2020

The three days were intense. The participants shared significant information and experiences that they will be able to put into practice when dealing with disasters in the countries where they work. At the end of the workshop the organisers highlighted the importance of the RRIG system, an added value Switzerland provides to the countries where it is represented, and the need to continue strengthening capacities and using new technologies that enhance Switzerland’s humanitarian aid.

The next workshop will be held in 2022. We invite you to learn more about Swiss humanitarian aid in the following videos:

How Switzerland responds to crises and disasters
Saving lives, alleviating suffering
2020 02 24-27 GRD Taller de actualización y fortalecimiento de capacidades del Grupo de Intervención y Respuesta Rápida

For further information:
Web Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian Aid Programme – Lima Hub (Peru)
Factsheet Rapid Response Intervention Group (GIAR)


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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.