Persons with disabilities often neglected in natural disaster drills: Expert

Middle East, October 30 2013

MUSCAT: Experts at a seminar on disaster risk reduction have said that a small amount of money spent on preparedness saves a lot more during the aftermath of a disaster and that persons with disabilities are often neglected in disaster drills.

The two-day seminar, ‘Programme of International Seminar on Natural Disaster Risk Reduction’, held by the Oman National Commission for Education, Culture and Science opened at Sultan Qaboos University on Monday under the patronage of H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, in the presence of H E Dr Madeeha bint Ahmed al Shibaniyah, Minister of Education, and chairperson of Oman National Commission for Education, Culture and Science.

Quoting from UNESCO reports,  Mohammed al Yaqoubi, secretary of the commission, said, “Each dollar spent to avoid disasters or their aftermath saves seven dollars that would had been spent on reacting to disasters after their occurrence.”

Bernardo Aliaga, senior programme specialist, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UNESCO Paris, said that people with disabilities have been ‘some what neglected’ in natural disaster drills. He however mentioned that there have been some efforts in this area.

In his presentation ‘Education and Public Awareness in the Context of Disaster Risk Reduction’,  Aliaga quoted a statement from the Center for International Rehabilitation, which said that persons with disabilities living in the affected areas continue to experience a loss of their human rights – both through the devastation of the disaster itself and through overall exclusion from the recovery efforts.

Tony Elliott, head of Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS) Secretariat, IOC, UNESCO, said, “A perfect warning will be useless if people do not know what to do in case of an emergency.” He was making a presentation, ‘The role of Tsunami Exercises and Drills in End to End Education, Awareness and Preparedness’. The types of exercises he talked about were ‘Orientation Workshop’, ‘Tabletop Exercise’, ‘Drill’, ‘Functional Exercise’, and ‘Full-Scale Exercise’.

The first day of the seminar had sessions on ‘Natural Disasters: Preparedness, Response and Management’ and ‘Climate Change and its Relationship to Natural Disasters’. The third and fourth sessions on Tuesday are on ‘Multi-Warning Systems and Natural Disasters Management’ and ‘Education and Public Awareness in Reducing the Impact of Natural Disasters’.

Source: Muscat Daily

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