Disability inclusion process in Washi emergency response

Distribution of materials in the Washi Emergency Response Project. Photo: Handicap International

Distribution of materials in the Washi Emergency Response Project. Photo: Handicap International

While natural disasters affect a large number of individuals, PWD tend to be more affected than others during such situations and often face bigger challenges in order to cope with the situation and survive. Due to their specific situations, they risk being excluded and invisible during response activities, and they often face additional barriers in accessing support and relief efforts. In an emergency context, their original vulnerability is greatly compounded, bringing about the risk of their vulnerability increasing.

PWD also have specific needs that are not always taken into account by response activities. Although they have the very same basic needs as everyone else, meeting these specific needs may be critical to prevent their condition from deteriorating and allow them equal access to basic emergency relief. Examples of specific needs can include the need for assistive devices or technical aids, additional nutrition requirements, medical care specific to certain conditions, adapted physical environments, and the like.

Handicap International with the support of the Australian Government agency conduct a study to provide a broad picture of what the disability inclusion process was like in the Washi response, examining how the immediate response took into account the specific situation and needs of PWD as well as the current attitudes and perceptions surrounding disability inclusion in emergencies. The results gleaned from the study and their analysis was utilized to formulate seven recommendations towards the improved inclusion of disability in subsequent disaster response.

  1. Improve awareness and understanding of disability
  2. Increase capacities for disability inclusive emergency response
  3. Improve data collection on disability
  4. Involve PWD
  5. Create referral systems for the specific needs of PWD
  6. Regulate and monitor disability inclusion
  7. Increase advocacy at all levels