Living with Disability and Disasters
Loss of lives, suffering and damage due to disasters in many parts of the world are a constant reminder of our vulnerability to natural hazards.
Yet much of these tragic consequences could be avoided through risk awareness and assessment, improved environmental management and urban planning, preparedeness and education, to name a few. Disaster risk reduction is about understanding our personal and environmental risks of a hazard and finding ways to reduce this risk so that we are not affected by them, or are able to recover quickly.
Disasters must be an opportunity to challenge prejudice and discrimination and to ‘build back better,’ by ensuring the inclusion of all women and men. Adults and children living with disabilities have an essential role to play in strengthening resilience before and after disasters.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
On 13 October, we celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction as a reminder that disaster resilience must be a development priority in all parts of the world. This year, the International Day for Disaster Reduction focuses on the approximately one billion people who live with some form of disability, and their vulnerability to disaster.
Persons living with disabilities are among the most excluded in society, and their plight is magnified when a disaster strikes. Not only are they less likely to receive the aid they need during a humanitarian crisis, they are also less likely to recover in the long-term. Representing one-fifth of the world's population, persons living with disabilities offer unique contributions, often overlooked, to help reduce the risk of disasters and build resilient societies and communities.
- National Dialogue on the Social Inclusion of People Living with Disabilities in Indonesia
11-12 November 2013, Jakarta, Indonesia
- UN Interagency support group meeting for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
25-26 November 2013, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France
Facts and Figures
In the United Nations...
Developing inclusive Early Warning Systems and response mechanisms
UNESCO’s Disaster Risk Reduction Platform works to reduce the potential impacts of natural disasters, by enhancing public awareness through education and communication, and strengthening observation and early warning system networks.
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is leading a global effort to establish ocean-based tsunami warning systems around the world. These four regional systems were created to evaluate risks, address vulnerabilities, plan a response, issue and transmit alert messages and educate the populations exposed to tsunami risks.
Working with and for Youth with Disabilities
Within the renewed strategic objectives on youth, UNESCO's Programme for Social and Human Sciences is increasingly focusing on the situation of youth with disabilities to enable them to develop their skills and access opportunities to engage as fully-fledged actors for development and peace in their communities.
Access to knowledge for people with disabilities
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential for making significant improvements in the lives of people living with disability, allowing them to enhance their social and economic integration in communities by enlarging the scope of activities available to them.
UNESCO promotes inclusive education policies, programmes and practices to ensure equal education opportunities for persons with disabilities, enabling them to exercise their right to access the best possible knowledge to protect themselves.
Protecting World Heritage
World Heritage properties are also exposed to natural and man-made disasters which threaten their integrity and may compromise their values. The loss or deterioration of these outstanding properties would negatively impact local and national communities, both for their cultural importance as a source of information on the past and a symbol of identity, and for their socio-economic value.