The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is being observed every 13 October and Handicap International, through the Restoring Livelihoods and Building the Resilience of Most Vulnerable People Affected by Typhoon Haiyan (iRESTORE) Project, led this year’s observation in Capiz province, Panay island.
A motorcade from Villareal Stadium to Roxas City (the province’s capital) Plaza kicked-off the activity; vehicles of participating offices, departments and organisations of the province traversed through the busy streets of the city to catch the attention of the public. It was followed by a program at the plaza which highlighted the efforts and experiences of the local government on disability inclusion in disaster risk reduction (DRR).
“The Provincial Government of Capiz is your pro-active partner in [Inclusive DRR]…we are promoting a more streamlined and integrated approach on DRR,” said Pepe Del Rosario, son of Capiz Governor Antonio Del Rosario, who spoke on behalf of his father. He further shared that the provincial government under the administration of his father has created the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) to expedite assistance, especially to vulnerable groups during disasters, and to properly prepare for incoming disasters.
The program also gave persons with disabilities the opportunity to voice out their issues and concerns. Jennifer Barrios, Capiz Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) Federation President, had the opportunity to represent the sector and speak in front of the local government officials and the locals of the province.
Describing how persons with disabilities are being treated, Barrios shared that “some local government units are not ‘welcoming’ to persons with disabilities.” Persons with disabilities are often neglected by employees of the government when they are availing services and/or assistances, according to Barrios.
“We come to government offices early to avail their services but government employees come in late; making us wait for hours before we get the services that we need,” said Barrios. He likewise mentioned that infrastructures are inaccessible to persons with disabilities and that there is a scarcity in employment opportunities for them.
“On behalf of persons with disabilities [of the province], I call [the attention] of the local government units, particularly [Roxas] Mayor [Angel Alan] Celino and Governor Del Rosario to give priority to our cause,” urged Barrios.
The program also showcased a community play by the Dagway Sigmahanon, a performance arts group composed of children of iRESTORE Project’s beneficiaries. Their performance presented the shared experiences of the community after recovering from a disaster and it highlighted the importance of inclusive preparation for disasters. Also, it was emphasized how different barriers can be removed and how disaster preparation can be inclusive of all members of the community.
The activity was able to gather more than a hundred of participants and overall reaction from the audience was positive.
Handicap International continues to conduct activities like this to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. Aside from working with local government agencies and other stakeholders of the Province of Capiz to address the recovery needs of typhoon-affected and other at-risk communities, Handicap International promotes greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction programs and attitudinal and behavioural change towards them.