On 13 October, CBM celebrates International Day for Disaster Reduction. Before this date, we are highlighting stories from the DiDRR network's publication 'Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Management'. The following story is about a young man, Rashedul, in Bangladesh, who is an active contributor to the disaster preparedness activities in his village.
Rashedul was born in Boali Village, situated in the Shreepur Union of Sundargonj sub district of Gaibandha, Bangladesh. At an early age he got a fever and the absence of proper health care services in his village and his family’s poor economic situation made him lose function in his legs. The struggle his family had to face in the village made him move to Dhaka to try to support the family’s income through asking for money in the streets, though his dreams were always on finding another type of profession. He recalled as well the severe flood in his village in 2007 and the inhuman conditions he had to face during the emergency period. Nobody had thought about how to evacuate persons with mobility problems, or how to provide them with adequate latrines and safe drinking water.
Rashedul became one of the persons that participated in the project supported by CBM and CDD, as he joined the invitation from Gana Unnayan Kendra, the local partner implementing the project. Through this opportunity he could return to his village as he took part of the livelihood scheme and obtained a grant for buying a sewing machine, a few animals and tools for doing homestead gardening. He was also trained in disability inclusive disaster management and received a tricycle so that he could easily move around in the village and take part of the preparedness actions being implemented.
Acquisition of an accessible house, and inclusion in income generating activities, has enriched Rashedul's standard of living, and his skills in disaster management have brought him dignity and respect. Members of his family give a lot more importance to his needs and requirements. When asked what the reason behind this is, he answered: "because I am involved in productive activities now, I have a regular income, I have a house where neighbours can take shelter during flood, I have a tricycle, I have knowledge on flood preparedness and as a result I have the ability to help others."
It is imperative that the community, persons with disabilities and local government are meaningfully engaged in all DRR planning and its implementation. It is their support that is a key factor for success of undertaken programmes. Persons with disabilities often need counselling, life skills development, and access to information, positive environment, rehabilitation care and capacity on DRR to enable them to participate effectively and confidently. If such opportunities and services are available and if there are appropriate policies and these are implemented, persons with disabilities can contribute as their neighbours to community development.