Q&A: A 'twin-track' approach to disability-inclusive disaster preparedness

Source(s): Devex

By Kelli Rogers

Q&A with Fred Smith, head of policy for international charity Sightsavers.

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In the broader sense, development actors should be thinking about long-term, inclusive resilience building; humanitarian actors should consider inclusion within a short-term response; and the climate change community should think about how the resilience of people with disabilities to climate risk can be built up over time, [Smith] added.

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What sort of progress has there been around ensuring participation of people with disabilities in disaster management planning?

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In Bangladesh, we had a disability inclusive disaster preparedness program that fostered self-help groups and disabled people's organizations so they could access more information on disaster planning, but it also linked them to existing local social welfare support and employment training. And what we found is that as they became more confident to advocate for their rights, they ended up lobbying the local disaster planning committees and through that, were invited to become members.

That is critical — because then people with disabilities were informing the long-term planning for disasters in their communities.

Is there a recent example of an intervention that stands out to you when it comes to an inclusive approach to disaster risk reduction?

What's really encouraging is that there's been a lot of progress in this area quite recently. In terms of programmatic interventions, we were involved in some research last year on disability and climate resilience. What good practice tends to do is mainstream inclusion but also provide targeted interventions where required. We refer to that as “twin-track” interventions.

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