Natural disasters can change landscapes and impact entire regions and communities beyond recognition. For people with disabilities and other at-risk groups, their situation can be much more devastating as they are often forgotten and left behind when a disaster strikes. Disaster risk reduction is also important in regions where conflict has displaced large numbers of people.
CBM works in many countries that experience regular disasters. These may be weather-related or linked to existing earthquake and volcanic fault lines. Real commitments to include the most vulnerable people in disaster preparation and relief efforts are now part of international agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals.
People with disabilities and other at-risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and children are often excluded from disaster preparation or forgotten in community planning. When disaster strikes, it is harder for them to get to shelters and safe areas due to physical barriers as well as a lack of information in accessible forms.
The poorer the setting, the more devastating the impact on vulnerable people, especially those with disabilities.
CBM sees disaster risk reduction as a vital aspect of community-based development. It is important to have a voice in the community for disaster management structures so that people with disabilities can gain an understanding of legal rights at a national and international level.
In order to build resilience, CBM and our partners extend resources to the most at-risk groups. This means supporting disabled people’s organisations, self-help groups and setting up partnerships to benefit the whole community.
We also encourage the opportunity for people with disabilities to assist with evacuation drills and with disaster awareness-raising campaigns in their community.
When these different elements are in place, people with disabilities are empowered, the risk to vulnerable people is reduced and the whole community benefits from being more informed and prepared in the face of disaster.