International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

14th October 2019
International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction
Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) in celebrating the international day for disaster risk reduction, calls for the adoption of an accessible standard in the region to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in disasters situation. The theme of this year’s International Day for DRR which is celebrated every year on the 13th of October is “Reducing disaster damage to critical infrastructure and limiting the disruption of basic services”. Critical infrastructure includes schools and hospitals while basic services include potentially life-saving utilities such as food, water, energy, telecommunications, and transportation.
In 2018 a needs assessment conducted by PDF, CBM New Zealand and disabled persons organisations (DPOs) in Tonga after the devastation of TC Gita, highlighted physical barriers encountered by persons with disabilities prevented them from accessing key services in the response. A number of respondents reported that physical barriers prevented access to facilities and services provided in the response, such as evacuation centres, meetings and aid distribution sites. The barriers included lack of accessible transport to evacuation centres such as privately owned vehicles or public transport, lack of accessible evacuation centre building structures including WASH facilities, inaccessible information and a lack of partitioning for privacy.
Similarly in 2016, UNICEF funded TC Winston needs assessment for persons with disabilities conducted by PDF and its DPOs in Fiji in Fiji highlighted the low number of persons with disabilities that actually turned up to evacuation centres. It was noted in the assessment that only 45 of the 963 persons with disabilities that were assessed were able to go into an evacuation centre.
In 2015, a research conducted by CBM Australia together with the DPO in Vanuatu after TC Pam highlighted that 74% of women with disabilities reported barriers to accessing evacuation centres.
These barriers and challenges experienced by persons with disabilities in these different disaster contexts accentuate that actions towards guaranteeing that persons with disabilities are not left behind is inevitable.
PDF reiterates that an accessibility standard is crucial for the region to ensure that critical infrastructure such as schools and public buildings which are mostly used for evacuation centres and to temporary set up essential basic services are #BuildToLast for everyone without discrimination, exclusion and guaranteeing that no human being a left behind. Adopting the accessibility standard will strengthen governments and other stakeholders’ implementation of Target D of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030.
PDF in collaboration with key stakeholders in the region is currently developing an accessibility blueprint for the Pacific. The blueprint is aimed to guide national government to ensure that building codes and other infrastructural guideline are inclusive of the needs of persons with disabilities and guaranteeing that we are not leaving anyone behind in our move towards an inclusive and accessible Blue Pacific for all.
PDF will continue to work with key stakeholders in the region to ensure that Pacific persons with disabilities rights are protected and enjoyed on an equal basis with other Pacific islanders.
Media contact:
Setareki Macanawai
Chief Executive Officer
+679 331 2008/ 9921486