Tag Archives: disaster risk reduction

Positive references to disability in DRR outcome document

It seems like yesterday that I last blogged, when I was so inspired about the shift in attitude towards disability from vulnerable to active participation. I’m still excited about it, and after the conference declaration was released today it looks like we are still on course.

A woman on stage with two people

Kazol Rekha, a young woman living in a village in a flood-prone area of Bangladesh, talks about her role on a local DRR committee

The last few days here at the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in Bangkok has seen people from many different countries sharing their opinions on the way forward in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

They’ve been showing examples from their home communities by giving live presentations and showing videos, and asking questions and raising issues during debates.

As you’ll have seen if you’ve been following us on Twitter or Facebook (do click the links!) we took part in all this, with our partners from the Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN), including representative from many Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) from the region.

We all know what we want – to make the post HFA document properly disability-inclusive, meaning that persons with disabilities are actively involved in DRR processes – and I seen so many great arguments for it. People have described it in different ways: People with disabilities should be seen as ‘agents of change, not vulnerable‘, ‘leaders, not liabilities‘, or ‘empowered decision makers, not passive recipients‘. Even Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR, said that the path ahead requires an inclusive and participatory work model involving everyone, during her opening speech on Tuesday.

This morning, the final declaration from the conference was released and includes reference to inclusion, disability and accessibility, in the context of ‘meaningful participation’ and ‘positive contribution’. Also, after Atif Sheikh, from our partner STEP, read the voluntary commitments from the disability stakeholder group, Ms Wahlström endorsed the right of persons with disability to be actively present in these discussions.

So all in all, good; a productive few days (plus all the hard work that has been done in the lead up to this week!)

But there is still so much to be done: we must make sure that the message remains loud and clear right up to the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan next March, and beyond. As Dodo (see below) said, “Let us persons with disabilities come together and show the world that, if empowered, we can build a better society”

I’ll leave you with some impressions and opinions from the last few days… enjoy.

Media panel discussion

Media panel discussion

I was part of a panel discussion on media, for international journalists, about disability inclusion in DRR and the role of the media. It must have been successful because I ran out of business cards to give out after it… let’s see how many people use them!

CBM also organised two similar events through the week: one for Thai journalists and one for young journalists. These were also successful, with the latter one featured on the conference newsletter today.

A man on astage communicating in sign. Behind him is a banner 'IGNITE STAGE - 6th AMFDRR'

Son Do explaining the video

Son Do, who is from Vietnam, is deaf, and works as a sign language translator/teacher. He is developing a project including a video for deaf people to learn about Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM), which he showed as a side event during the conference.

The video shows a mapping system with accessible icons showing features like houses where people with disabilities live, areas affected by flooding, and evacuation paths.

Many people in a large auditorium, including wheelchair users and someone with crutches

Plenary session

Dodo (right, wearing shorts) and Parman (furthest left) are from Indonesia, and are seen here during one of the plenary sessions. Dodo is the leader of a health volunteer group which focuses on inclusion  of persons with disabilities in mainstream services. Both men have been identified as potential DRR leaders in their communities and told me they are looking forward to putting their learnings from the conference into practice at home.

Yousaf (with the camera) is from PSPDO, an implementng partner of STEP, based in Pakistan.

A woman seated

Litia, at the DIDRRN booth

Litia,  from Fiji, is a Community Based Inclusive Development officer with CBM partner Pacific Disability Forum.

She says “I am the expert in disability … I know the development that can happen if we are included”.

She goes to village, provincial and district meetings, persuading committees of the rights of persons with disabilities, and put her point across in style on stage yesterday, when she said that “Active inclusion of persons with disability in DRR will change mindsets”

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


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)


Accessibility in Disaster Risk Reduction – explaining the ‘why’

Hi from the Philippines again, where time is still flying!

My next blog is going to be about how to practice inclusion, after I conduct some trainings with partners here today and tomorrow. So I thought it would help if I first explain ‘why‘ accessibility is so important in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Makes sense I hope? Continue reading

Disability inclusion and disaster risk management

It has already been one week that I am in the Philippines now!  Time goes fast but I’ve learned a lot about CBM’s programmes in the region (more on that later), and hopefully managed to share some of my knowledge…

The main event during my visit was the 3-day National Summit on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Management that started on Tuesday. Continue reading