International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction – Overcoming Barriers in Reducing the Economic Loss of Disasters

10/13/2018
The International Day of Disaster Reduction is celebrated on the 13th of October every year and in 2018, the day is celebrated with the theme, ‘Reducing economic losses’. The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) in celebrating the event this year calls for collection of disability disaggregated data in disasters with comprehensive accounting for economic losses incurred by persons with disabilities and their families.
 
Mr. Setareki Macanawai, PDF Chief Executive Officer said, that collection of disability disaggregated data will ensure that governments and humanitarian actors are well informed of persons with disabilities situations, hence, developing and implementing necessary disability inclusive actions and approaches that will guarantee building back better and full inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Early identification of persons with disabilities is key in ensuring that response are inclusive and rehabilitation does not leave anyone behind and continues to build and strengthen people’s resilience to disaster.

The Pacific region is prone to natural hazards like cyclones, flooding, droughts and king tides. These natural hazards brings devastating impacts on people’s properties, lives and livelihoods, hence, incurring economic losses which for most persons with disabilities are hard to recover as most live in poverty and have no access to any employment or livelihood. After TC Winston stroked Fiji in 2016, PDF with its DPO members in Fiji conducted a needs assessment on persons with disabilities affected by the cyclone, the assessment indicated that 98.95% of the assessed population were unemployed.

Similarly, PDF in collaboration with its DPO members in Tonga conducted a needs assessment on persons with disabilities in Tongatapu after TC Gita in 2018, the assessment indicated that 95% of the assessed population are unemployed. These figures indicates that persons with disabilities ability to recover economic losses incurred during disaster will be hard or impossible as they do not have the means to recover them.

Reducing economic losses for persons with disabilities means ensuring that they are resilient to the impacts of these extreme weather events. Hence, their involvement in the preparedness phase of disaster is crucial in guaranteeing that we build disaster resilient persons with disabilities. PDF in its work to strengthen the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian actions within the region is currently working with CBM Australia and DPOs in PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Vanuatu through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) to build the capacity of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to be better prepared for disaster. This work is focused on influencing humanitarian actions to be disability inclusive and for humanitarian actors to include persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in their work in reducing economic losses.

Building the capacity of persons with disabilities, their families, carers, and communities to be prepared for disaster will ensure reduction in economic losses for persons with disabilities and their families. It is crucial that persons with disabilities are educated and included in disaster preparedness activities that will strengthen their resilience and preparedness to disaster. The inclusion of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in these preparedness activities will also guarantee early identification of persons with disabilities before disaster.

PDF reiterates, if approaches and standards in disaster management are to be disability inclusive, the involvement of persons with disabilities representative organisations in all stages of the planning, development, implementation and monitoring processes is inevitable. ‘Nothing about us without us’ is key, in ensuring disability inclusive disaster management.