Engage Persons with Disabilities in Disaster Risk Reduction Planning: Legarda

Asia-Pacific, Disaster, July 21 2015

PHILIPPINES: In line with this year’s celebration of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (July 17-23), Senator Loren Legarda today urged the government to ensure that persons with disabilities are engaged in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) programs.

Legarda said that aside from ensuring access to government services, persons with disabilities should also be consulted in crafting DRRM plans and involved in disaster preparedness efforts so that their special concerns are addressed.

“Our┬ápersons with disabilities are twice more likely to lose their lives or be injured than any other person during disasters. However, their disability does not equate to their inability to contribute significantly to DRRM programs. In fact, they can make significant contributions and so we must tap their knowledge and experience,” she stressed.

A 2013 survey by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) among persons with disabilities revealed that, if a disaster occurs, 80% said they would be unable to evacuate immediately without difficulty, while six percent (6%) said they would not be able to evacuate at all.

Moreover, 71% of the respondents said they do not have any personal disaster protection plan; only 31% always have someone to help them evacuate, while 13% never have anyone to help them.

“As the effects of climate change worsen each year, we should be able to strengthen our DRRM programs and ensure that the concerns of citizens, especially those with special needs such as persons with disabilities, children, women and the elderly, are taken into account,” said Legarda, the UNISDR Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

According to the Philippine Information Agency, among the activities for the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week is a Seminar/Training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

“We must continue to know more about the needs of persons living with disabilities. We must know more about their challenges and about their abilities to cope and to take part in disaster risk reduction efforts,” Legarda concluded.

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