ECHO, 6 other partners call on government to practice inclusive disaster risk reduction practices

Asia-Pacific, October 18 2013

As part of their global effort to promote the importance of including everyone – especially the most vulnerable – during disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning, European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and six other international non-government organizations including Oxfam has called on the government to involve persons with disabilities in their planning.

“Persons with disabilities are more vulnerable in times of disaster. They face more risks, are often ‘invisible’, and encounter more barriers in accessing services and support during emergencies. But involving them should entail getting them to participate themselves,” Javad Amoozegar, country director of ACF said during the celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction. This year’s them is “Living with Disasters and Disabilities.”

The SUBU project – which aims to ensure the safety and protection of everyone from disasters – is an 18-month project implemented by ACF, CARE Nederland, Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International in 36 municipalities throughout 10 provinces in 5 regions. Funded by ECHO for €1.53M (about P80.million), the project strengthened local alliances and advocacy to assist the local government units (LGUs) in understanding and implementing RA 10121 otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Law. It also promoted the establishment of sustainable dissemination and replication mechanisms for community-based disaster risk reduction models in the Philippines.

According to the World Health Organization, persons living with disabilities represent one-fifth of the world’s population.

“These people still have no significant representation in the planning processes to reduce disaster risks, prevent disasters or build resilient societies and communities. Because of this, the needs and possible contributions of persons living with disabilities are often overlooked by planners. Hence, there is very little reference to disability in many national and local disaster management and risk reduction plans around the world,” Carmen Zubiaga, Acting Executive Director of the National Council on Disability Affairs said.

In time for this International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on 13 October, SUBU consortium members has organized a one-day celebration with an interactive exhibit for the public and a national conference for DRR practitioners and LGUs to promote inclusive DRR. The conference gave partner LGUs and communities the chance to share their knowledge and experience with each other and other LGUs, promote understanding how these can strengthen existing government projects and programs, and create an opportunity to bring to light key policy issues and gaps.

During the conference, ECHO and SUBU consortium members emphasize the need for inclusive DRR to accelerate change, improve lives and promote empowerment. Among their efforts is to mainstream DRR down to the individual level through a knowledge-sharing portal: This knowledge website spearheaded by Oxfam with the support of the SUBU consortium and ECHO hopes to be a one-stop shop portal on DRR which ordinary Filipinos can have access to.

“We intend to switch on and amplify the critical issue of addressing the needs of persons with disabilities in potential disaster scenarios,” Amoozegar added.

To raise awareness on this advocacy for DRR inclusion and involvement of persons with disabilities, and reach out to more people, SUBU has an ongoing one-week exhibit on disaster preparedness at the SM Mall of Asia.

Source: Oxfam Philippines

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