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A Resilient Future: Embracing Innovation and Leveraging Local Expertise and Collaboration to Enhance Seismic Risk Reduction in El Salvador


Feb 20, 2024

Feb 22, 2024

Spanish version

The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation's USAID-supported project, Forecasting and Communicating Earthquake Hazard and Risk (FORCE), has been working to help strengthen local capacities and improve earthquake risk reduction in El Salvador. The project has conducted two visits to the country, bringing together government agencies, scientists, engineers, and other stakeholders to discuss seismic hazard assessment, risk analysis, and communication strategies (report with detailed information).

“The FORCE project workshops have been instrumental in strengthening our knowledge in earthquake risk management. This allows us to improve logistics by developing and updating our planning instruments based on realistic scenarios. These scenarios define the necessary resources (human, material, and financial) in advance, ensuring a more effective and timely response when an earthquake strikes.” - Katherine Elizabeth Peña Nunfio, Technical Specialist - Research and Risk Analysis, General Directorate of Civil Protection. Click here for more details of Katherine’s insights.

Training Sessions and OpenQuake Technical Workshop

The first visit, from November 6 to 10, 2023, focused on training sessions for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) staff on the construction of base models for seismic risk assessment, such as the seismic hazard model and the exposure model. In the case of seismic hazard, the workflow was evaluated using the different tools that GEM offers for the construction of a probabilistic seismic hazard model (PSHA) and the underlying datasets (seismic catalogue and logic tree of ground motion models).

The OpenQuake Technical Workshop, held on November 9, 2023, provided step-by-step practical exercises on seismic hazard and risk analysis. Participants had the opportunity to interact with GEM scientists and engineers in modelling seismic hazard and risk using OpenQuake, the software developed and maintained by the GEM Foundation, and used by MARN for the characterisation of seismic hazard at the national level.

“MARN recognises the importance of regularly updating its hazard and exposure models to reflect the latest seismic activity and urbanisation patterns. The institution will continue to utilise the GEM methodology and OpenQuake engine to ensure that its models remain up-to-date and reliable.” – Luis Ernesto Mixco Durán, MARN on the key takeaways from the workshops and their implementation. Click here for more details of Luis’ insights. 

Meetings with Government Actors and Seismic Risk Communication Workshop

The second visit, from January 8 to 12, 2024, focused on meetings with government actors and a workshop on seismic risk communication with decision-makers. The meeting with government actors was an opportunity to present the project and its progress, as well as the expected results (risk analysis for specific seismic events, probabilistic analysis at the national level, and forecast risk assessment for 2030, 2040 and 2050).

The Seismic Risk Communication Workshop with Decision Makers ("Earthquakes in El Salvador: What do we know and how could they affect us in the coming years?"), held on Thursday, January 11, 2024, brought together representatives from the GEM Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/BHA), the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), the General Directorate of Civil Protection, the Ministry of Public Works (MOP), the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), the Ministry of Education (MINED), the Ministry of Housing, the Road Conservation Fund of El Salvador (FOVIAL), the Salvadoran Institute of Social Security (ISSS), the Salvadoran Association of Engineers and Architects (ASIA), the Central American University "José Simeón Cañas" and the University of El Salvador.

“The techniques and input provided during the workshops will empower me to introduce seismic risk assessment concepts more effectively to my Master's students, allowing them to visualise earthquake impacts in real-world scenarios." – Manuel Alfredo Lopez Menjivar, University of El Salvador (UES) on the application of the workshop's learnings to his work in earthquake risk reduction. Click here for more details of Manuel’s insights.


Key Recommendations from the Workshops

The workshops identified several key recommendations for enhancing earthquake risk management in El Salvador:

  • Capacity Building: Enhance technical expertise on seismic hazard assessment and OpenQuake engine utilisation. For instance, during the online training workshop held for the month of February, 40 participants were from El Salvador- (link to training: 

  • Model Development: Continuously refine hazard, exposure, and vulnerability models for El Salvador.

  • Seismic Risk Communication: Develop tailored risk profiles for government agencies and the public. Utilise a dashboard for effective visualisation and dissemination.

  • Additional Considerations: Include in future versions the infrastructure damage estimation, fluctuating population, and tourist presence in risk assessments. Prioritise earthquake risk communication and community preparedness.

Promoting Shared Understanding and Collaborative Action

The FORCE workshops have made a significant contribution to earthquake risk reduction efforts in El Salvador by bringing together key stakeholders in the field of disaster preparedness and emergency response. These workshops have fostered a collaborative environment where participants can share their knowledge and expertise, leading to a better understanding of seismic hazards, risk assessment methods, and appropriate communication strategies. Additionally, the project is working with MARN and scientific collaborators to improve models, such as the seismic hazard, exposure, and vulnerability models, thereby generating risk metrics that will better reflect the seismic risk reality of the country.

Visit the FORCE project website for more information at:



This web article about the FORCE project activities in El Salvador is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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