Disability and Humanitarian Assistance

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Tips to consider in moving towards inclusive humanitarian assistance.

Disability inclusion in all phases of emergency response and preparedness is crucial - from disaster risk reduction preparedness, prevention and mitigation to disaster relief, rehabilitation and recovery.

In utilizing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), two articles require inclusive humanitarian responses:

  • Article 11 requires states to ensure that persons with disabilities are protected in situations of risk or humanitarian emergency.
  • Article 32 requires that international cooperation be accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities.

Prevention and Preparedness

  • Mapping – Work with DPOs to ensure that persons with disabilities can be located during an emergency
  • Warning Systems – Make information channels accessible to people with different types of disabilities
  • Evacuation Plans – Make plans accessible and inclusive by consulting persons with disabilities
  • Safe Shelter – Use universal design to create accessible, safe shelters
  • Search and Rescue – Provide training and education for emergency staff

Rescue and Response

  • Documentation - Create and maintain lists of persons who need specific support
  • Distribution – Consider separate queues or prioritizing persons with injuries or disabilities. Provide adaptive and assistive devices to help increase mobility of those with physical disabilities.
  • Cash Transfers – Consider reserving an amount for the most vulnerable
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – Use universal design to make pumps and latrines accessible
  • Protection – Provide a safe location with sufficient lighting at shelters to prevent abuse and discrimination, which may be heightened during distress
  • Reunification – Prioritize persons with disabilities who have been separated from their caretakers or provide trained volunteers for support

Recovery and Reconstruction

  • Rebuilding – Include persons with disabilities in reconstruction activities so that barriers are not rebuilt
  • Livelihood Opportunities – Encourage and facilitate the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all economic and educational activities
  • Newly Acquired Disabilities – Prevent newly acquired disabilities by providing timely and inclusive assistance. The immediate consequences of disaster such as malnutrition, psychological shock, loss of medicines, trauma or injury can lead to new impairments.

We encourage you to explore some of the key external resources on inclusive emergency response provided in Related Links and Documents. The resources are provided in their original format. MIUSA strives to ensure external documents are accessible to the greatest extent possible. As the field of inclusive emergency response is developing rapidly, we also recommend doing web research for new resources.

Be sure to utilize MIUSA’s resource, Making Inclusive Development a Reality: Ten Essential Steps, which has disability inclusion tips relevant across all development sectors. This can be found in the Related Resources.