India to host international conference on disaster risk reduction

NEW DELHI: India will host the Asian ministerial conference for disaster risk reduction next month which will focus on partnership with governments and stakeholders to imbibe the practices in the region’s development narrative.

This is the first AMCDRR after the advent of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR), adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015. It will set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the conference that will be held here on November 3-5 in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The conference aims at transforming the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action.

The hosting of the conference re-affirms India’s commitment to the cause of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said.

Established in 2005, AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organised by different Asian countries and the UNISDR.

So far, six AMCDRR conferences have been organised. India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in New Delhi in 2007. India’s commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is evident from the fact that it became one of the first countries to align its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) with SFDRRR.

The meet will focus on collaboration, consultation and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream DRR in the region’s development narrative.

The conference will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries. It will also consolidate the political commitment of governments towards preventing and reducing risk as well as strengthening resilience in the form of a political declaration, the statement said.

Source: Mumbaimirror

Disaster assistance available for older adults and people with disabilities in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.VA.: Older adults and people with disabilities affected by the June 22-29 severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides may be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA has made it a priority to reach everyone who needs help – including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, older adults and people with limited English proficiency – to make sure all survivors’ needs are met.

Accommodating survivors

  • Every disaster survivor has equal access to disaster information and assistance.
  • All FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are physically accessible.
  • All DRCs offer effective communication options, including captioned phones, iPads with video remote interpreting and on-site American Sign Language interpreters upon request.
  • Both Braille and large print FEMA documents are available.
  • If you need an accommodation or assistance due to a disability, please notify FEMA staff at the time of registration or anytime during the assistance process.

If you experienced losses or damage as a result of the recent storms you have several ways to register for disaster assistance:

  • You can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or by telephone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, you should call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST seven days a week.
  • Or you can visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). You can locate the center closest to you by visiting http://go.usa.gov/x3NnJ or downloading the FEMA App to your mobile device to:
    • Apply for disaster assistance
    • Get directions to the nearest DRC
    • Get weather alerts
    • Subscribe to disaster safety tips

Will disaster assistance change my benefits?

  • If you receive Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, you will not lose your benefits and they will not be cut if you receive disaster aid from the state or FEMA.
  • For more information on Social Security, contact the Social Security Administration by calling 800-772-1213 or by visiting SocialSecurity.gov.

How will I know what I am eligible for?

  • If you live in one of the 12 West Virginia counties approved for federal Individual Assistance as a result of the storms that occurred June 22-29 you may be eligible for disaster aid.
  • The only way to know if you are eligible – and what you are eligible for – is to apply.

Are there any videos available?

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting fema.gov/disaster/4273,

FEMA ensures Texans with disabilities, access needs can register for disaster aid

AUSTIN, TEXAS: Texans who have a disability or access need and sustained damage or losses from the May storms and flooding may face challenges, but registering for federal aid shouldn’t be one of them.

Video sign language interpretation service (Photo credit: socmin.lt)“We reach out to the entire community,” said Federal Coordinating Officer William J. Doran III, who is in charge of FEMA’s operations in Texas. “And FEMA works with our partners to make sure that everybody can get access to disaster assistance information, programs and registration.”

FEMA’s disaster recovery centers – locations where survivors can meet face-to-face with various agencies and service providers – accommodate the needs of the entire community, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

The centers meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards; have assistive technology equipment that allows disaster survivors to use amplified telephones; phones that display text; amplified listening devices for people with hearing disabilities; and magnifiers for people with vision disabilities.

Some disaster recovery centers use a video relay service available to people who use American Sign Language, allowing them to communicate through an interpreter when registering for disaster assistance. Others make an ASL translator available at the center. In addition, language applications are used for translation.

Federal assistance is available to eligible individuals and households in Austin, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Eastland, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Lee, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Stephens, Travis, Tyler, Waller and Washington counties. To find the nearest disaster recovery center, go online to asd.fema.gov/inter/locator.

In addition to accommodating people with disabilities or access needs, FEMA also reaches out to people with limited English proficiency by providing multilingual operators, making printed literature available in multiple languages and having translators available in the field. Printed materials are available in accessible formats such as Braille and large print.

Texans can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

For more information on the Texas recovery, visit the disaster webpage for the May storms at fema.gov/disaster/4272; or visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at txdps.state.tx.us/dem. Follow us on Twitter @femaregion6.

OCD brings disaster risk reduction and management advocacy to persons with disabilities

BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES: The Office of Civil Defense – Cordillera Regional Office, in continuously expanding the reach of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management advocacy in the region,  brought  the Basic DRRM Training to the Federation of Person with Disability at the City Social Welfare and Development Office here.

The two – day (June 9 and 10) training  included an overview of the national DRRM framework as mandated by Republic Act 10121; the four thematic areas of DRRM – Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Rehabilitation and Recovery,  and briefers on understanding weather, geological, landslides and subsidence hazards.

The 40 participants were also given an overview on Disaster Risk Assessment and demonstrations on basic first aid and handling injured victims, as well as a demonstration on earthquake preparedness and on how to conduct an earthquake drill.

OCD Information Officer Franzes Ivy Carasi informed that the activity is part of their DRRM advocacy for the public sector. This was the first training that involved persons with disabilities.

Earlier this year, OCD conducted a similar training for public school teachers in Baguio and in Ifugao, Carasi said. They also conducted a DRRM for Kids advocacy in a public elementary school in Baguio and in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Meantime, Carasi  enjoined the public to participate in  the  2nd Quarter National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) set this June 22   by doing the “Duck, Cover and Hold”  preparedness drill.

Peru to host World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

LIMA: Lima will host the World Engineering Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction gathering renowned world experts on December 5- 6, 2016.

Organized by the College of Engineers of Peru and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), the said conference will contribute to disseminating experts’ experiences on disaster prevention.

Close to 800 engineers —400 of them from overseas— are expected to join the gathering.

The College of Engineers of Peru aims at creating a plan to allow the country to face disasters properly and thus ensure minimum human casualties and material losses.

The Declaration of Lima will be approved within the framework of this international event.

The announcement ceremony saw the participation of Housing and Urbanism Deputy Minister Ricardo Vidal Nuñez, Peru’s College of Engineers Dean Jorge Alva Hurtado and National University of Engineering Professor Emeritus, Engineer Julio Kuroiwa.

Source: andina

Persons with Disabilities at Risk in Conflict, Disaster

NEW YORK: Persons with disabilities face added risks of abandonment, neglect, and do not enjoy equal access to food, health care, and other assistance during conflict, displacement, and reconstruction, CBM, Handicap International, International Disability Alliance, Women’s Refugee Commission, and Human Rights Watch said today, ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit on May 23 and 24, 2016, in Istanbul.

An evacuation drill being conducted in Dong Phuoc village, Vietnam. Photo: Guilhem Alandry/doculab/Malteser International/UNISDR

An evacuation drill being conducted in Dong Phuoc village, Vietnam. Photo: Guilhem Alandry/doculab/Malteser International/UNISDR

Governments, donors, and aid agencies are overwhelmed with many competing priorities during conflict and natural disaster. But they need to ensure that the rights and concerns of persons with disabilities are addressed in aid efforts, one aspect of which is to endorse the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, which includes guidelines for inclusive humanitarian response. The charter was created by nongovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and states through an open, transparent process.

“Leaders gathered at the World Humanitarian Summit need to translate commitments on paper into action on the ground, to make sure that one of the most marginalized populations – people with disabilities – get the aid they need and have an equal right to,” said Vladimir Cuk, executive director at the International Disability Alliance. “These commitments are about ensuring that people with disabilities won’t be discriminated against and will be part of planning an inclusive response to crisis situations.”

While many people affected by a crisis need assistance, those with disabilities are especially at risk, the group said. Physical, communication, and other barriers complicate the challenges created by war, natural disasters, and other situations that put people at risk. People with disabilities often have difficulty getting aid because facilities are not accessible and information is not provided in easy-to-understand formats.

More than 1 billion people worldwide, or about 15 percent of the global population, have disabilities, and an estimated 6.7 million people with disabilities are forcibly displaced as a result of persecution and other human rights violations, conflict, and generalized violence. The Women’s Refugee Commission reports that women and girls with disabilities face added risk of sexual violence, but are often excluded from women’s protection and empowerment programs in humanitarian contexts. Children with disabilities are also at risk of abandonment and violence during emergency situations, and yet their particular needs are often not taken into account in aid efforts.

The charter addresses these concerns in five key areas: ensuring that there is no discrimination; providing equal access to humanitarian services; involving people with disabilities and organizations that represent them in the response; developing global guidelines to improve strategies, data collection, and monitoring of inclusion; and encouraging closer collaboration among humanitarian actors and local partners.

More than 160 countries have ratified the UN disability rights treaty. In addition to rights to accessibility, health care, and education, the treaty includes a specific provision that calls on governments to ensure the safety and protection of people with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies.

“With so many conflicts and disasters competing for the headlines, the challenges facing millions of persons with disabilities continue to be invisible,” Cuk said.” Governments, UN agencies, and organizations working in humanitarian emergencies should make certain that people with disabilities are no longer left behind.”

Source: HRW

Disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction at Regional Asia-Pacific Conference on Gender and DRR

HANOI: Between the 16th and 18th of May, the Regional Asia-Pacific Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction took place in Hanoi, Vietnam. On the second day of the conference, the Hanoi Disabled People’s Organization (DPO Hanoi) and the Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN) organized a side event on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction.

The event was attended by 40 participants, including representatives of DPOs in Vietnam, representatives of the Regional UNISDR Office, the Director of Regional UN Women, the Deputy Director General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Control/ Deputy Chief of the standing office of the Central Steering Committee on Disaster Management of Vietnam, the UNDP Senior Advisor on gender inclusion, and a number of other highly distinguished delegates.

During the event, representatives from Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) shared their concerns about the disadvantages they face in responding to disasters, as well as the particular needs they have during disasters, and the barriers that prevent them from participating fully in disaster risk-reduction activities. In light of these constraints, they used the side event to advocate for increased support to help them participate in local disaster risk-reduction activities. The side event was well received by conference participants. “This is the most tremendous event of the conference,” said the UN Women Technical Advisor. She was joined in her opinion by Ms Pham Thanh Hang from UNISDR, who suggested mainstreaming disability inclusion in the National Strategy for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control as well asin  the implementation plan for the Sendai Framework in Vietnam. DPO and DiDRRN representatives recommended that people with disabilities should be invited to participate in the processes of planning, monitoring, and undertaking the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

Mr Nguyen Duc Quang, Deputy Director of the Vietnamese Department of Disaster Prevention and Control, and Deputy Chief of the standing office of the National Committee on Disaster Prevention and Control responded that inviting “representatives of people with disabilities in the Disaster Prevention and Control committees” will be considered “at all levels, especially at the national level.” After the side event, DPO representatives went on to participate in other plenary sessions of the conference in order to advocate for greater attention to disability issues in the final recommendations for gender mainstreaming in the Sendai Framework of Action. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of the DPOs and Malteser International on behalf of DiDRRN, the final draft of this paper contained key provisions relating to inclusivity, accessibility, attending to the needs of at risk groups – including people with disabilities – and the principle of universal design.

The collection of disability disaggregated data before and after disasters was clearly mentioned in the paper. In his closing speech, Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development conveyed his appreciation for the active participation of DPO representatives, who contributed to the success of the conference together with other non-disabled stakeholders.

Source: Malteser International

New Book Launched: Disability and Disaster: Exploration and Exchanges

The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University has announced the release of the scholarly work, Disability and Disaster which includes disaster research to the expanding area of disability studies. This edited collection includes writings by international scholars as well as 19 chapters about individuals with disabilities affected by disaster across five different continents.

Book cover page In this collection, the editors, Laura M. Stough and Ilan Kelman, have embraced the call from the disability community to write “nothing about us without us,” while incorporating reflections from scholars studying why certain groups are more vulnerable to disasters than others. In 19 first-hand narratives written by individuals with disabilities and their families, these authors do not label themselves as “victims” of disaster or of disability. Rather, they portray agency and self-reliance. As such, these narratives present a counter-narrative to the assumed vulnerability and weaknesses of individuals with disabilities.

“In Disability and Disaster: Exchanges and Explorations, editors Ilan Kelman and Laura M. Stough have achieved something truly ground-breaking. First, in terms of the academic importance of this work, it adds to the social vulnerability literature and represents the first serious book-length treatment of disability and disaster studies…

Disability and Disaster will shatter many myths and misconceptions that people often hold about persons with disabilities and will help a generation of readers to see these individuals in a much more full, complex, and nuanced light.”  –    Lori Peek, Ph.D., Colorado State University

Ilan Kelman is Reader in Risk, Resilience, and Global Health at University College London, UK and a Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Norway.

Laura M. Stough is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Assistant Director at the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University.

To order this book, visit http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/disability-and-disaster-ilan-kelman/?isb=9781137485991. All royalties will be donated to disaster-related organizations.

Red Cross offers disaster preparedness workshop

The American Red Cross will offer a free disaster preparedness workshop from 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 17 at the Sutton Center Conference Center, 1854 E. Perry St., Port Clinton.

Project Prepare for an Inclusive Community will highlight training for seniors, individuals with developmental disabilities, caretakers and advocates. Workshop participants will adapt best practices in preparedness planning to their own unique situation as they learn to make a plan, build a kit and stay informed.

Training facilitator is Gary Loboschefski, retired American Red Cross emergency program manager for the northwest Ohio region.

To register, call 419-734-1100 or email beth.leggett@redcross.org.

New research explains why disaster law lags behind

While countries have been increasingly moving toward transnational legal norms in areas such as public health, financial stability, and health policy, a new book chapter by Penn Law professor Eric Feldman and his student Chelsea Fish L’16 argues that in the critical area of disaster management these transnational efforts have lagged far behind other fields.

Feldman is the Co-Director of the Center for Asian Law and Fish is a Senior Editor at the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. In addition, this year Feldman is leading a Global Research Seminar titled “Disasters and the Law,” which includes a research trip to Japan, where students will explore legal issues involved with disaster management in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The chapter by Feldman and Fish, forthcoming in Comparative Law and Regulation, edited by David Zaring and Francesca Bignami, explains that two primary factors influence why the area of disaster law has resisted “transnationalization.” First, there is a distinct lack of laws and policies at the national level on which a transnational structure could be built. And second, governments tend to “go it alone” in the area of disaster management. Most nations, they note, manage disasters on an ad hoc basis.

Feldman and Fish use the concept of transnational legal ordering (TLO), from the book Transnational Legal Orders, edited by Terence C. Halliday and Gregory Shaffer, to discuss how disaster law has largely resisted global governance. According to Halliday and Shaffer, a TLO is “a collection of formalized legal norms and associated organizations and actors that authoritatively order the understanding and practice of law across national jurisdictions.” In their research, Feldman and Fish have found that TLOs are most visible when it comes to post-disaster emergency response, and much less visible in other areas — particularly in victim compensation.

“The capacity of human beings to deny, ignore or minimize potentially unpleasant and undesirable experiences is vividly on display in how they approach the possibility of being affected by disasters,” Feldman and Fish write. “Despite Biblical warnings and the regular occurrence of devastating events, we seem content to act as if disasters are always someone else’s problem.”

Feldman and Fish argue that the most well developed TLOs are in the area of disaster response. There are a large number of organizations dedicated to providing humanitarian relief immediately following a disaster (such as the International Red Cross, Oxfam, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and others), and they play a critical role in providing support for disaster victims in the short term by providing food, clean water, sanitation, and shelter.

But while private aid in recent years has continued to grow, Feldman and Fish note, these organizations are often poorly integrated and suffer from coordination problems. During the international response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, poor coordination between the international community and the Haitian government prevented the relief effort from being as comprehensive as it could have been.

When it comes to victim compensation, Feldman and Fish write, “transnational regulatory regimes for compensating victims of natural disasters are largely non-existent.” Individuals are usually not compensated for personal injuries or property losses. Many private insurance policies exclude types of disaster risk, and many individual underestimate the risk of natural disasters and tend to underinsure.

Feldman and Fish explain that the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, and the resulting nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, demonstrate how the absence of TLOs in the area of disaster preparedness, along with a lack of domestic legal order for managing disasters, resulted in a slow and poorly organized response to the disaster. Little compensation was available for victims of the earthquake and tsunami, save for token payments from a condolence fund and insurance payments from those who happened to have earthquake policies, and those affected by the nuclear disaster had to navigate a complex bureaucracy that provided three separate routes to compensation.

In contrast, the French compensate the victims of natural disasters through “a regularized and inclusive system that socializes risk by spreading the coast of disaster related harms broadly throughout the populace,” Feldman and Fish write. The animating value to this system is solidarity — the Constitution of 1946 “proclaims the solidarity and equality of all French people in bearing the burden resulting from national calamities.” The system disincentivizes the submission of tort claims by providing the alternative of insurance, which is less expensive and socially preferred because of its association with solidarity.

While the U.S. government has generally been disinterested in social solidarity, Feldman and Fish explain, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the government stepped in to enact the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSSA). The ATSSSA made civil suits against the airlines the exclusive jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York, which streamlined claims processing, insulated the airline industry from devastating liability, and ensured equity among claimants.

In addition, the ATSSSA created the no-fault September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, a second route to compensation. Congress protected the airline industry, Feldman and Fish explain, while expressing compassion to the victims and their families, in a way that was deeply rooted in — and justified by — the value of solidarity.

Despite the frequency with which disasters strike, their relative ubiquity, and their border crossing nature, Feldman and Fish write, TLOs have largely failed to materialize, and the human consequences are profound. The Fukushima disaster alone cost over $200 billion, including direct economic losses representing four percent of Japan’s GDP. It is the costliest disaster in history.

But there is hope, Feldman and Fish argue. “The ability of the social solidarity norm to effectively motivate disaster compensation regimes in two countries with such different social and political values is suggestive of its potential to undergird the creation of law and disaster TLOs across a broad spectrum of nations.”

“When that occurs,” they add, “we will know that the predictions of a truly globalized international legal order will have finally proven true.”

Source: Penn Law