The Importance of Inclusion in Disaster Risk Management

Disasters can affect everyone, but their impacts can disproportionately affect certain groups, including individuals with disabilities. These individuals often face additional challenges and are more vulnerable during crises because of a lack of disability-adapted strategies. For instance, evacuation plans might not consider the needs of individuals with disabilities, communication channels might not be accessible to them, and safe shelters might not be equipped to accommodate their specific requirements. This can leave them in precarious situations during disasters. It is crucial to prioritize inclusive disaster risk management (DRM) to ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals with disabilities during emergencies.

Disability Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction and Early Warning Systems in the Pacific Region

GFDRR conducted an assessment that focused on the Pacific region and highlighted the complex challenges and opportunities in integrating disability considerations into DRM. This study examines various aspects of conditions experienced in a disaster, including the role of climate change, existing legal frameworks, and the essential role of national disability organizations. The aim was to develop a blueprint for action that can guide inclusive DRM efforts across the Pacific. By understanding the specific risks and needs of individuals with disabilities in the face of climate change, DRM initiatives can be better tailored to ensure their inclusion and resilience. By integrating disability-inclusive DRM into legal frameworks, countries in the Pacific can ensure that the rights and needs of these individuals are protected and addressed in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Overall, the study provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities in integrating disability considerations into DRM in the Pacific. It offers a blueprint for action that can guide policy makers, practitioners, and stakeholders in implementing inclusive DRM strategies that prioritize the needs and rights of individuals with disabilities.

Transforming Findings into Actions

The report offers recommendations that cover various aspects of DRM, including policy frameworks, capacity building, community engagement, and data collection. These recommendations underscore the importance of integrating disability considerations into all stages of DRM, from planning and preparedness to response and recovery. By doing so, DRM practices can better address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of individuals with disabilities, ensuring their safety and well-being during disasters. The insights gained from this collaborative effort can guide policy makers, practitioners, and stakeholders in implementing inclusive DRM strategies that prioritize the inclusion and resilience of all individuals, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds. By adopting these recommendations and implementing inclusive DRM practices, countries can enhance their disaster preparedness and response capabilities, reduce the impact of disasters on vulnerable populations, and build more resilient communities. Based on the findings of the report, the World Bank and GFDRR assessed projects in the Indo-Pacific region to identify opportunities for integrating disability considerations for the Kiribati Outer Islands Resilience and Adaptation Project, the Vanuatu Affordable and Resilient Settlements Project, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands Urban Resilience Project.

Adapting the Recommendations to the Unique Context of the Marshall Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) provided a successful example of translating theoretical recommendations into tangible change by embracing inclusion in DRM. In a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders—including local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental bodies—a workshop was conducted to adapt the broad recommendations to the unique context of the Marshall Islands. The workshop aimed to ensure a holistic and grounded approach to inclusive DRM in the island country. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise, the workshop facilitated the translation of theoretical recommendations into practical actions relevant to the local context. This process enabled the customization of DRM strategies and initiatives to address the specific challenges and needs of the Marshall Islands. The workshop stands as a shining example of how inclusive DRM can be achieved through collaboration and the adaptation of recommendations to the local context. It demonstrates the commitment of the Marshall Islands to prioritize the inclusion and resilience of all individuals, including those with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

The Way Forward

The workshop had significant impacts and outcomes, as evidenced by the recommendations and discussions that took place.

1. Identification of recommendations. The breakout groups identified recommendations in four broad areas: governance representation, inclusive building code, facilitated participation, and accessibility to infrastructure. This exercise allowed participants to collectively brainstorm and prioritize actionable recommendations.

2. Prioritization and feasibility assessment. Participants ranked the recommendations according to their priority and the urgency of their implementation. They also assessed the feasibility of each recommendation using a colored dot system. This process helped establish a consensus on the most critical and actionable recommendations.

3. Checklist or action plan development. Based on the prioritization and feasibility exercise, participants in the breakout groups drafted a checklist or action plan. This plan included details on “What” needs to be done, “Who” is responsible for implementation, and “When” it should be completed. This step facilitated the development of a clear implementation plan.

4. Concerns and proposals on accessibility and inclusivity. Throughout the workshop, attendees raised numerous concerns and proposals related to accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities in the Marshall Islands. These concerns included inaccessible governmental facilities and the slow progress in implementing existing accessibility laws. Participants also highlighted the need for improved communication solutions and heightened emergency preparedness, especially in the outer islands.

5. Consensus on ongoing dialogue and cooperation. Participants appreciated the effort to include the perspectives of people with disabilities in the workshop. They emphasized the importance of ongoing dialogue and cooperation to effectively implement the identified enhancements. This consensus reflects a commitment to continuous collaboration and improvement in promoting accessibility and inclusivity in the RMI.

Overall, the workshop resulted in a set of prioritized recommendations, an action plan, and a deeper understanding of the challenges and proposals related to accessibility and inclusivity in DRM. These outcomes provide a foundation for future initiatives and actions aimed at improving the lives and resilience of individuals with disabilities in the RMI. Similar workshops will be conducted for Vanuatu and the Kiribati Outer Islands.

Translating Theoretical Recommendations into Practical Actions

One of GFDRR’s key contributions is grounding studies with actionable insights. Through research and analysis, GFDRR produces valuable knowledge and recommendations that inform DRM practices. These insights, rooted in a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in DRM, offer practical guidance for policy makers, practitioners, and stakeholders. By collaborating closely with governments, local NGOs, and other stakeholders, GFDRR assists in translating recommendations into tangible actions. This includes providing technical assistance, capacity-building support, and financial resources to back the implementation of inclusive DRM strategies.

GFDRR’s work not only yields immediate improvements in DRM practices but also has a lasting impact by shaping policies, building institutional capacity, and promoting a culture of resilience. Through its efforts, GFDRR aspires to create a future where communities are better prepared, more resilient, and capable of effectively responding to and recovering from disasters.

South Africa

View more results stories from fiscal year 2023 in GFDRR's Annual Report 2023.