Building the resilience of people with disabilities to prepare for the impact of climate change

Tsunami evacuation route sign

Communities in our region are already seeing their climate changing.  Here in Australia we’re experiencing the increasing danger of bushfires, longer, hotter summers, more frequent droughts and cyclones which impact previously safe parts of Australia.

In the Pacific, the dry season is lasting longer, and storms and cyclones are becoming more frequent and more damaging. Erosion of land and rising sea levels are impacting our Pacific neighbours.

Across the world, but especially in developing countries, people with disabilities are worried about how climate change will impact them. Disability is one of the factors that increases a person’s vulnerability and exposure to climate change.  It is known that climate change hits the world’s poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.   People with disabilities are more likely to experience poverty because of a range of barriers they face in accessing education and getting a job and the extra costs they have to pay for things like assistive devices, rehabilitation services, and more expensive accessible transport.

The poverty people with disabilities experience means they are more likely to live in marginal areas in poor quality shelter, face difficulties getting access to clean water, and experience food insecurity. Climate change is making all of this worse.

To change this, women, girls, men and boys with diverse disabilities must be active participants in planning, implementation and monitoring of climate change adaptation strategies.   They must be given all the same chances to diversify their livelihoods, to build up their food security, to have access to clean water, and to be safe in times of climate-related disasters.

CBM Australia is working to ensure that people with disabilities are not left out of climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness efforts. CBM Australia is partnering with the Pacific Disability Forum to implement a regional project under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funded Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster READY component.

Together with the Pacific Disability Forum CBM is providing capacity building and support to national Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) across the five Pacific countries where Disaster READY is operating. This has included training DPO staff on the various hazards experienced across the Pacific, including climate-related hazards and hazards due to climate change, and building their confidence to apply their lived experience of disability and their disability inclusion lens to climate change adaptation efforts.

Climate change is affecting us all but it does not impact us all equally; it takes a greater toll on those already dealing with poverty and marginalisation and often people with disability are the most affected. An important part of sustainable development is ensuring that people with disabilities are at the centre of strategies and responses which impact them in their community. This includes making sure that they are given a voice in and the chance to be resilient in the face of climate change.

Read more about our climate change work.