26 Years after Major Earthquake - Mexico City Targets at Risk Buildings


Date: 4 Oct 2011

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for the Americas (UNISDR AM)

Geneva, 4 October - Between observance of the 26th anniversary of the September 1985 earthquake in Mexico City and Mexico’s hosting of the global celebration yesterday of the 2011 World Habitat Day under the theme Cities and Climate Change, the municipal government of the capital city has passed a new law on structural safety that will further protect people living with earthquake risk.

Under the new legislation, unsafe property at high risk of damage from earthquakes will be expropriated and the occupants of such buildings provided with safe housing.

Juan José García Ochoa, Under-Secretary of the Government of the Federal District (GDF) of Mexico City said, “Expropriation will be supported with loans for affordable housing to vulnerable families who live throughout the city in unsafe buildings with high seismic risk.”

According to the EM-DAT database, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake which occurred on 19 September took 9,500 lives and affected 2.1 million people.

Ricardo Mena, Head of the UNISDR Americas Regional Office is pleased with the new legislation and what it brings to the table. “We’ve been providing support to the Government of the Federal District of Mexico City to improve DRR policies and practice. This has partly led to various DRR measures being taken. Preventive actions have been complemented by preparedness initiatives that include training of 10,000 public servants and members of local citizen committees on family disaster preparedness plans.

”In addition, Mexico City was one of the first cities to sign up for UNISDR’s World Disaster Reduction Campaign - Making Cities Resilient – which we started last year. Mexico City’s Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard is also a champion of this Global campaign”.

UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström welcomes this new legislation. “The last Global Platform held in Geneva in May of this year called for increased investment in local action and it was all about promoting such initiatives and creating the space for local governments to take these necessary actions. Examples such as this one from Mexico City are exactly what we need from local governments to demonstrate disaster risk reduction tangibly at work and that it does work best at the local level.”

According to the new law, approval from the Ministry of Works and Services is also no longer required for expropriation, which can now be authorized by the Director for Operations (DRO) as well as the Secretariat for Civil Protection and any Structural Safety Directors appointed in the future.