On 13 October, CBM celebrates International Day for Disaster Reduction: a day to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations. The 2013 theme is Living with Disability and Disasters. Persons living with disabilities have unique potential, often overlooked, to help reduce the risk of disasters. International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013 intends to include the needs of persons living with disabilities now, and for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
Working together with persons with disabilities
Although there is currently a powerful momentum to reduce risks of disaster and strengthen community resilience, it is crucial to maintain this. All stakeholders must be involved: civil societies, governments, NGOs, international organisations, academics and the private sector. Everyone needs to be included. Valerie Sherrer, Director of the CBM Emergency Response Unit says: “Together we can achieve so much more. This is exactly what inclusive disaster risk management is about: working together with persons with disabilities to minimize the vulnerability of all, while improving family and community capacity to cope with the impact of disasters: inclusion saves lives!”
Persons with disabilities must be seen as valuable contributors to their communities and, as such, they have an essential part to play in disaster preparedness, response or recovery projects. Dave McComiskey, President of CBM International says: ”Changing attitudes is a long term process. But together, we can accelerate the efforts to make disaster risk management inclusive. Persons with disability have to be included in all phases of disaster risk management through all sectors. This is the only way forward: invest together today for a safer tomorrow.”
Concrete inclusive practices
To go from words to deeds, CBM has encouraged its members on the field to collect good practices of inclusion of persons with disabilities in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Some of these concrete practices come from the unique experience of the Disability-inclusive DRR Network for Asia and the Pacific (DiDRRN). This network is a consortium of like-minded disabled people's organisations (DPOs), 'mainstream' and disability-focused development and relief organisations. The network collective aim is to secure the active participation, and meaningful contribution, of persons with disabilities in DRR policy and practice up to 2015 and beyond. CBM and DiDRRN have published a compilation of inclusive disaster risk reduction practices by relating stories and testimonials of persons with disabilities acting as effective agents. It also unveils how some organisations decided to include disability as an integral part of their policies and programmes.
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