Asia-Pacific Meeting on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction: Changing Mindsets through Knowledge
Asia-Pacific is the region most adversely affected by disasters. Evidence from recent Japanese experience in disasters indicates that persons with disabilities are two to four times more likely to die than the general population when a disaster occurs. As ageing and disability are closely interconnected, the gap may be expected to widen if no action is taken to address present shortcomings in disaster risk reduction. Many Governments in the region do not incorporate disability perspectives in legal frameworks, policies and action plans for disaster risk reduction (DRR). Thus, in much of the ESCAP region, physical infrastructure, and disaster response services do not incorporate universal design principles. Public service announcements are often issued in formats and language that are not accessible by persons with disabilities. Emergency exits, shelters and facilities tend not to be barrier-free. Such drawbacks place persons with disabilities, and older persons at much higher risks, especially when disasters strike.
The regular participation of persons with disabilities in emergency preparedness and other disaster risk reduction measures would save lives, as well as prevent and minimize risk and damage when disasters occur. The Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific provides the ESCAP region, and the world, with the first set of regionally-agreed, disability-inclusive development goals, comprising 10 interrelated and time-bound goals, 27 targets and 62 indicators. Through Goal 7 of the Incheon Strategy, Governments in the region committed to strengthening disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning and action.
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HfA): Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters, which is the global mandate on disaster risk reduction, does not make explicit reference to disability. The HfA is expected to be updated and strengthened in 2015 at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be hosted by the Government of Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan. Prior to the Conference, the 2014 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management will be held in Suva, from 2 - 4 June 2014, while the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held from 23 to 26 June 2014 in Bangkok. These meetings present critical opportunities to promote disability inclusion in DRR.It is against this background that the Asia-Pacific Meeting on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction is being organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in cooperation with Rehabilitation International and the Nippon Foundation. The Meeting will bring together disaster risk policy experts and disability policy experts from Governments, and disability rights experts from civil society organizations in the Asia-Pacific region.
The venue of the Asia-Pacific Meeting on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction is the Sendai Mediatheque