Bangladesh: Including persons with disability in disaster management and climate change adaptation

United Nations Development Programme - Bangladesh

Persons with disability are as much a part of society as the rest of us, and when it comes to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, they cannot and should not be left behind. With this message, a workshop titled “Building Resilience for Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh: Consultation on Disability inclusive Early Warning System, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA)” was organised at a Dhaka hotel on May 28, 2019 by United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh (UNDP) and Centre for Disability in Development (CDD).

AHM Noman Khan, executive director of CDD, said in his welcome speech, “CDD wants to make the lives of disabled persons better, and so far Bangladesh has been exemplary in disaster management. Now it is time to make sure that disaster management in inclusive in every step, from warning to recovery.”

He added, “We cannot prevent natural disasters but we can minimise its risks. All stakeholders are trying to make interventions relating to climate change as inclusive as possible.” AHM Noman Khan also highlighted UNDP’s role in this sector. “Many do not know the vital role UNDP has played in many interventions. They have provided full support in this area of development,” he said.

Arif Abdullah Khan, programme specialist (climate change & disaster risk management) at UNDP, said, “Disability is a central focus for us. We are trying to include the perspective of persons with disability in the context of Bangladeshi policies and intervention.”

In his presentation, Arif Abdullah Khan highlighted the major issues faced by disabled persons due to climate change and natural disasters. This includes increased difficulty in mobility, increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases, food scarcity, mental trauma, difficulty in accessing healthcare, and more.

He spoke on the close tie between natural disaster and climate change. “Bangladesh is at huge risk due to climate change, and we must ask what it implies for the disabled. We must ensure that all stakeholders work together, and create human-centric projects that tackle this issue. We will take into account what our beneficiaries want.”

Moloy Chaki, disaster risk management & training specialist, said that climate change is no longer just a threat, rather something that is already happening around the country. “Even those areas which were not considered at risk of flood or other disasters in the past, may now be prone to such disasters. There is a need for preparedness in all corners of the country, from hills to coasts.”

Multiple persons with disability were present at the workshop, who gave their valuable opinion on disaster risk management. They said that inclusivity should not be a standalone goal, rather it should be ensured at every stage to build back better.

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