Moving on from vulnerability

It’s not even the first day of the conference, yet I was inspired.

What did it? Well, it was the ability of Monthian Buntan (who is on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Former Senator of Thailand) to motivate and simplify…

A man resenting using slides with large audence (30-70 people)

Monthian Buntan at the Multi stakeholders pre-conference on disability-inclusive DRR

I’m attending the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in Bangkok. It is a venue for countries, organisations and individuals to meet and discuss the way forward in reducing disaster risk in the region. And it is the final regional inter-governmental meeting in Asia before the completion of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-15 and the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Senda, Japan, March 2015.


For CBM and our partners in the Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN) the priority is ensuring the active participation of people with disability in DRR policy and practice post-2015.

I know, that all sounds complicated, so let’s get back to the inspiration and simplification!

This morning I was at the Multi stakeholders pre-conference on disability-inclusive DRR (discussion before the big events start proper tomorrow). Here were many good speeches and quotes, and a short discussion, but the inspiring bit for me was Monthian Buntan’s insistence – and everyone’s agreement – that persons with disabilities do not need to be classed as ‘vulnerable’.

“We are vulnerable because we are not perceived to be capable of making any contribution, but only recipients of help and custodial care.

“We will remain vulnerable and excluded should we not be able to participate effectively in all planning and implementing stages of DRR due to lack of genuine accessibility.”

Three boxes with texts 'accessibility, participation and inclusion', linked by doule-ended arrows forming a triangle

Explaining the link between accessibility, participation and inclusion

Mr Buntan talked about how being inclusive means that people with disabilities should be able to contribute and enjoy the benefit of DRR.

If this was music to my ears, he then went on to explain very simply how inclusion, participation and accessibility are the three interdependent factors which will help reposition this shift in perception towards disability…

  • It is accessibility that determines the level of participation, and vice versa
  • It is both accessibility and participation which determines inclusion

“If persons with disabilities are to be truly regarded as development partners and rights holders through Disability Inclusive DRR, these three factors must be seriously taken into account.

For me, this is common sense, essential action and all explained as simply as possible… I’ll try to spot similarly easy things in the coming days though cannot promise… bear with me! (follow on Twitter too @gordonrattray)

Resources to advocate for disability inclusive post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA2)