For the past 15 years, Humanity & Inclusion has been working around the world to help communities prepare for disaster and emergency situations. Our teams have seen first-hand how an increase in extreme and destructive weather events linked to climate change is affecting people with disabilities and vulnerable populations.
A growing threat
Humanity & Inclusion is acting in response to a rise in severe weather disasters and chronic climate emergencies. Between 2007 and 2017, an average of 60 more climate-related disasters per year occurred worldwide, compared to the previous decade. This is one of the reasons why HI has recognized the severe weather linked to climate change as a compelling and growing threat to the prosperity of our beneficiaries and exposed groups around the world.
Many research studies reveal that climate change has an indirect but severe consequence on vulnerable groups ranging from armed violence to food insecurity, water scarcity, mass migrations, and loss of livelihoods .
Although increased exposure to climate change affects everyone, severe weather has a disproportionate impact on defenseless population, especially on people with disabilities.
In addition to the immediate impact of unforeseen outset emergencies on all the population groups, people with disabilities are notably affected by natural hazards as they are more likely to live in poor and risk-prone areas and are frequently excluded from emergency preparedness plans.
Data from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) demonstrates just how isolated and at risk they may be in the event of a disaster. Globally, one of five persons with disabilities is in the position to evacuate without difficulties in the event of a disaster. Only 17% of people with disabilities are aware of a disaster management plan in their community, and following a disaster, 75% of people with disabilities believe that they are excluded from the humanitarian response.
Proper preparedness can save lives
In the photo above, located in a remote commune of northwest Haiti, volunteers in orange vests carry a woman on a stretcher down a rocky hillside. Fortunately, this is only a drill. The volunteers are testing emergency preparation measures and procedures they have installed to ensure that every member of their community can reach to a safe place in the event of a natural disaster. The entire municipality is being evacuated.
Thanks to a collaborative project run by Humanity & Inclusion and civil protection services, participants know how to provide information, warnings and assistance in an event of inevitable exposure for people with disabilities, children, and older individuals. Places of safety have been prepared in advance which are accessible to everyone. In a poor and isolated area of this disaster-prone country, these preparations offer the best chance of survival to the disproportionate groups.
About HI’s Disaster Risk Reduction work
- HI has been implementing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation activities for 15 years
- We are currently running 20 DRR projects in 16 countries
- HI helps other DRR actors to be inclusive of people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals
 Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
 HI, Disability and Climate-Change: How climate-related hazards increases vulnerabilities among the most at risk populations and the necessary convergence of inclusive disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, 2018