Expert of the Week   for  27 Oct - 02 Nov 2014

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Yasunobu Ishii

Senior Program Director

The Nippon Foundation (TNF) Expertise:  Inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. He is also an expert on disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction.

Mr. Yasunobu Ishii works for The Nippon Foundation, which has various humanitarian programs in fields such as social welfare, education, and disaster relief in over one hundred countries. As well as directing the foundation’s disability programs around the world, he is also in charge of the UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, which has been conducted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) since 1986. After the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster in 2011, Mr. Ishii initiated a Relief Support Project for Deaf Victims to implement services for the improvement of the psychological health of the deaf and hearing impaired, who have been struggling to rebuild their lives in the affected areas. He also launched the Video Remote Interpreting Project for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. In light of the lessons learned from the earthquake in Japan, Mr. Ishii has been engaged in the promotion of disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction. He has worked on the production of the documentary film "Messages of Life: Twice as Many Persons with Disabilities Passed Away on March Eleventh”. He has also organized various international meetings on disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction.

Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilient, Inclusive, and Equitable Societies

Read more on the context

QQuestion by Dr Satendra Singh

Many congratulations on the quantum of work done on DIDRR Mr Ishii. Thanks for the awareness through this page. I would like to ask you which technology can be most effective in DIDRR in low resource setting countries? What are the bare minimum cost effective strategies which can be applied for DRR?

Dr Satendra Singh Coordinator, Enabling Unit (for persons with disab | UCMS & GTB Hospital, Delhi

APosted on 02 Nov 2014

Dear Dr. Satendra Singh,

 Thank you for your question.

Because the need of persons with disabilities is different for types of disabilities and even for individuals, it is hard to identify one single most effective technology among many others. So, I am introducing a possibility that might be applied to low resource setting countries.

Accessibility of information is one of the crucial issues of DRR. We could learn from our experiences of the earthquake and tsunami, happened in recent years in Japan, that text message through mobile phone could be utilized more for improvement of access to information, such as warning, dissemination of information about evacuation and relief activities.

Although audio message can’t reach the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, they can read text message via mobile phone. (Strictly speaking, in many cases, Deaf people prefer sign languages to written text messages.) On the other hand, blind people can hear the message using the text to speech software.

The portable solar battery and/or manual electric generator are useful under the disaster situation. If mobile phones, batteries and electric generators are waterproof, it is idealistic, of course.

The register of names with email or SMS address should be prepared by public entity that is responsible for emergency management in order to disseminate information. Twitter was also utilized in 3.11 earthquake and tsunami to disseminate and obtain information.

Needless to say, mobile phones don’t need huge investment and state of art technology, and are already widely used in most countries in the world.

Best regards,

QQuestion by Ms Maryanne Diamond

Could you expand on the importance of the link between the HFA and post-2015 processes and the inclusion of persons with disabilities?

Ms Maryanne Diamond Chair | International Disability Alliance

APosted on 02 Nov 2014

Dear Maryanne,

Thank you for your question.  According to UNISDR, HFA2 will feed into SDGs. If HFA2 is able to fully and appropriately incorporate the perspectives of persons with disabilities, it would naturally influence SDGs. In my understanding, DRR should be one of the most important topics of SDGs in order to strengthen the sustainability and resilience of our society. Therefore, Disability Inclusive DRR would strengthen Disability Inclusive Development.

While nobody should be left behind in the SDGs, post-2015 processes should acknowledge that invisibility and lack of inclusiveness of persons with disabilities make them most at risk as well as most exposed to and disproportionately impacted by poverty and exclusion. Consequently, the perspectives of persons with disabilities should be integrated into every goal of SDGs as long as the issue is relevant to persons with disability. HFA2 and the process of consultation and drafting can be a model of integrating disability into many other important goals of sustainable development.

Let me explain an example. In the process of the 3rd WCDRR and HFA2, we realized it difficult to get precise information timely and deliver our perspective in PrepCom1 because only 9 Major Groups of civil society are designated as “Organizing Partners” of 3WCDRR and persons with disabilities were not listed as an organizing partner at the early stage. After discussing with UNISDR, the Bureau and the government of host country of 3WCDRR, the disability group was finally accredited as "Other important stakeholder groups", and we could establish an official channel to communicate with the organizer.

In contrast, not a single Disabled People’s Organization has  been listed yet as an organizing partner,  even as an "other important stakeholder",  in the framework of Sustainable Development.

Best regards,

QQuestion by Mr margaa khalid

How we can built capacity for manager of urban planification regarding Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilient, Inclusive, and Equitable Societies.
thank you Mr Yasunobu

Mr margaa khalid focal point of UNISDR Morocco | environment Ministry

APosted on 02 Nov 2014

Dear Mr Margaa Khalid,

Thank you for your question.  I would suggest two ideas for the capacity building of your colleagues of urban planification in terms of Disability Inclusive DRR.  One is to learn from experiences of other countries and the other is to establish the partnership with the government office in charge of Disability and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in Morocco.

There are examples of efforts to promote disability inclusive DRR in various countries such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Japan and so on.  Although it is hard to get full information from the resources posted on the following Web, your colleagues would be able to get the sense of disability inclusion.

Asia Pacific Meeting on Disability Inclusive DRR, containing PowerPoint presentations of India, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc.

Ecuadorian Video of Disability Inclusive DRR

Webiner of FEMA, USA. This is just an example, because I am not sure whether non US individual/organization can join or not.

Most importantly, I would strongly recommend your colleagues to participate 3WCDRR and join events related to Disability Inclusion. There are many sessions and events related to disability inclusion at 3WCDRR. For example, the working Session titled “Proactive Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction for All” is the most directly relevant to disability inclusion. At the session, your colleagues can exchange the ideas and strengthen your networks with international peers who are enthusiastically working on disability inclusion.

The other point is to establish the partnership with DPOs in Morocco because persons with disabilities know best about their need and capabilities and therefore they should be involved in all phase of DRR in order to reflect their perspectives. Often, there is no linkage between DRR and Disability, but the effective DRR can’t be achieved without DRR experts and persons with disabilities working together. Through working together with persons with disabilities, your colleague can learn a lot, perhaps more than attending a seminar or a workshop.

In order to involve persons with disabilities in urban planification in terms of DRR, I would recommend your colleagues consult with the government office in charge of Disability and contact Moroccan DPOs through them. The first step is to get to know each other. When your colleagues have a meeting with DPOs, accessibility should be considered because wheel chair users can’t access the room with steps, blind people can’t read printed materials and Deaf people need sign language interpretation to communicate with hearing people, for example. But, your colleagues don’t need to worry too much about it because DPOs at the national level usually know well about how to deal with accessibility issues.

We hope to meet you and your colleagues in Sendai, Japan in March 2015.

Best regards,

QQuestion by Mr Matthew Rodieck

First, I wanted to say that it's great for more people to hear about your good work, Ishii-san.
I'm interested in your ideas about the process and successes seen so far in how disability was widely integrated into the 3WCDRR consultative process, and what you hope to see as it continues with the next PrepCom2 events in November?

Mr Matthew Rodieck Project Manager, DiDRR | Rehabilitation International's Task Force on Disab
Netherlands, the

APosted on 31 Oct 2014

Dear Matthew,
Thank you for your kind words.
If I remember correctly, active movement of Disability Inclusive DRR has been started after Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami in 2004.  An example is the International Conference on Tsunami Preparedness of  Persons with Disabilities.

Efforts has been made continuously by many stakeholders and individuals. 
In October 2012, there were two important things. One is Incheon Strategy of ESCAP.  It includes the goal specifically about Disability Inclusive DRR titled "Ensure disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management."  The other is a statement concerning persons with disabilities adapted as the annex of Yogyakarta Declaration of the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction by the effort of UNISDR, DiDRRN and other colleagues.

In my part, in April 2012 Nippon Foundation (NF), UNDESA and UNIC Tokyo co-organizes the Expert Group Meeting on Building Inclusive Society and Development through Promoting ICT Accessibility. One of three main topics was "Disaster and Emergency Management."

After discussion with SRSG Ms. Wahlstrom about the participation of persons with disabilities in the arena of international DRR in October 2012, NF co-organized a side event on Disability Inclusive DRR at Global Platform 2013 together  with IDA, BMZ, GIZ and DiDRRN.

Then, advocacy and awareness raising on Disability Inclusive DRR have been continued such as Asia-Pacific Meeting on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: Changing Mindsets through Knowledge in April 2014 in cooperation with ESCAP and RI.  Here is the link to the outcome document.
In due course of 3rd WCDRR and HFA2,  by the effort of disability group, after productive discussion with UNISDR, the disability group is accredited as one of "Other important stakeholder groups." Also it is decided that the the working session focusing on persons with disabilities will be held at 3WCDRR.

 The other important achievement was that disability group successfully approached the CRPD Committee and advocated Disability Inclusive DRR.  As a result, the committee made the following statement.

The disability group, UNISDR and the Japanese Government (Host country of 3WCDRR) are trying to make PrepCom2 and 3WCDRR accessible for persons with disabilities.  The preparation for improving accessibility is going on, such as making the venue accessible for persons with mobility difficulty, checking the accessibility of hotels and transportation to the venue in Sendai City, providing real time captioning and International Sign interpretation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and preparing the documents in accessible format for the Blind and Low Vision people.  

We expect the participation of more persons with disabilities in PrepCom2 and 3.WCDRR and hope to hear their "voice" on Disability Inclusive DRR directly and expect their contributions. 

Best regards,

QQuestion by Mr Gordon Rattray

Dear Mr Ishii

Another question from me: How and why should persons with disabilities be actively involved in DRR activities?

Thanks in advance,

Mr Gordon Rattray Emergency Communications Coordinator | CBM

APosted on 30 Oct 2014

Dear Mr. Rattray,

Thank you very much for your question.

The persons with disabilities, compared to the general population, are more vulnerable and likely to be left behind during natural disasters due to lack of access to information and communication and inaccessible facilities and services.

In fact, the recent data of the Great Eat Earthquake Japan showed that the mortality rate of the persons with disabilities was two times higher than that of the general population.

In order to reduce the disaster risks and to save the lives as many as possible regardless of disabilities, disability inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) is important.

As the slogan “Nothing About Us, Without Us” tells, persons with disabilities should be included and they know their need best. Their perspectives and knowledge would contribute not only to disaster risk reduction for themselves but also the resilience of the whole community and society.

Persons with disabilities should be assured to participate in the process of DRR policymaking, action plan, evacuation drills and the recovery from disaster. All the phases of DRR in every level from international to community must be inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. 

Best regards,

QQuestion by Mr Gordon Rattray

Dear Mr Ishii

In your first answer you explain why disability inclusive DRR enhances resilience of the whole society. Can you elaborate a bit? For example, I'm sure building inclusion into DRR programmes must increase sustainability in general, is economically beneficial in long-term and has knock-on effects in community understanding and acceptance of disability?


Mr Gordon Rattray Emergency Communications Coordinator | CBM

APosted on 30 Oct 2014

Dear Mr. Rattray,

In my understanding, Disability Inclusive DRR (DIDRR) must be considered as the matter of human rights. Therefore, even if the cost of saving life of persons with disability is higher than persons without disability, DIDRR must be implemented.

Having said above, if DIDRR is implemented through community-based approach, it could be achieved by financially lower cost compared with implementing by setting up special and separated programs for persons with disabilities.

Regarding the knock on effect of DIDRR, it can be said that participation and social inclusion of persons with disability is advanced. Because DIDRR is achieved by active participation of persons with disabilities in the whole process of DRR, it provides opportunities for persons with disabilities and other community members without disability to interact each other frequently through planning, drills and other activities of DRR. As a result, all community members including persons with disability can get to know each other better and it is beneficial for welfare of the whole community.

Best regards,

QQuestion by Mr Dave Paul Zervaas

Dear Yasunobu,
Living with a disability often leads people to develop creative and resilient personalities in very special ways. How can the benefit and learn from resilience resulting from living with a disability and how could that help to ensure a good definition of resilience in the HFA2 ?

Mr Dave Paul Zervaas Programme Officer | UNISDR

APosted on 29 Oct 2014

Dear Mr. Zervaas,

Implementing Disaster Risk Reduction that is fully aware of the needs and risks of various kinds of Persons with Disabilities is beneficial not only for Persons with Disabilities but also for elderly citizens, small children, foreigners who speak different languages, and many other groups of our society. Therefore, it enhances resilience of whole society.

For example, the slope built for wheel chair users to access the shelter is also beneficial for the elderly people who have difficulty in mobility. They can evacuate, move and spend days in the shelter easier with the slope.  Another example is that providing information by audio helps not only Blind persons but also persons having the problem in literacy.  By adding concepts of inclusion and diversity to the definition of “resilience”, it will lead our society toward the one that cares all members of our society more carefully and precisely.  

In addition, the way of living of a disabled person could give a hint for “Resilience."   Here is a quotation of a presentation made by a Deafblind person at a conference on Disability Inclusive DRR. It was very inspiring to me.

“I am totally Deafblind, meaning I cannot hear at all and I cannot see at all. I am also a wheelchair and a ventilator user. I would like to officially announce here that I am an expert of unexpected things. Unexpected things happen in our lives. Disaster could be one of them.

We, Deafblind, can survive and continue to be resilient in unexpected situations happening every day because there is someone out there around us whom we can depend on. What I want to say is that ‘people can only survive in the connection to the other people’. Our survival is decided whether there is someone who thinks of us, who cares about us. Building human network in your community which makes you feel you are not isolated and treat you one of community members in everyday life would be a key in preparation for disaster coming next. … “

 Best regards,

QQuestion by Ms Pramila Subedi

What could be the disaster related messages to the disable people during disaster say earthquake. It is very difficult to address them to DRR.

Ms Pramila Subedi Associate | NRRC

APosted on 27 Oct 2014

Dear Ms. Subedi,

Integrating persons with disabilities into all phases of disaster risk reduction, especially disaster preparedness, enables them, their families and their support personnel to access disaster-related information, to assess risk, to plan, as well as to participate in drills, response and recovery process. Such disability-inclusive DRR increases the chance of survival of persons with disabilities.

Participation is the key to disability-inclusive DRR.  Participation of persons with disability in DRR at the community level gives new and different viewpoints to preparedness of the community that can have positive impacts on other at-risk groups such as the elderly population and, in the end, on whole population.

If your question is specifically about the moment natural disaster strikes, the content of message to persons with disabilities would not be so different from the message to all population. But, the way to deliver the message should be accessible for the persons with disabilities. For example, sirens alerting evacuation cannot reach to Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons, therefore such messages should be delivered by the flash signals, for example. On the other hand, Blind persons cannot read the message written or printed. Therefore, for example, the message should be voiced to reach Blind persons, rather than simply putting the written message on the wall of evacuation shelters.

Best regards,