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
When floods, storms, and droughts strike, people are forced to flee their homes, putting them in danger's path. For people with disabilities, the consequences can be deadly. It is crucial that local people and humanitarian agencies, like HI, are trained directly in case of a natural disaster. Being more prepared for such events would save lives.
Humanity & Inclusion's teams are working to ensure that people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals are not forgotten when disasters strike through our Ready for Action (REACT) project. Launched in 2016, the goal of REACT is to enhance HI's capacity to respond to emergencies in a timely and effective manner.
Last month, two staff members from Humanity & Inclusion's headquarters in Lyon traveled to Bangladesh, a country vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards, for an emergency preparedness workshop with our local team. Together, our staff created an emergency response plan, and a plan to reinforce their emergency operations and support preparedness capacities. Outcomes included the previously-mentioned action plan, mapping of resources, and lessons-learned, as well as technical measures in case of emergencies.
Thanks to this vital collaboration, our team can share this life-saving knowledge with the local people, so they too can be ready for action!
Photo: Bhabani Rout, 45, who wears a prosthetic leg, leads an early warning mock drill in India.
Preparing for an emergency
Emergency preparedness is a long-term process that requires dedicated time and resources, but it can also help improve the relevance and reach of Humanity & Inclusion's operations. Outcomes include:
- Strengthened hazard monitoring and early warning capacities and processes in the field and at HQ
- Increased capacity to assess emergency needs
- Strengthened capacity to implement emergency response activities
- Strengthened supply chain, including contingency stock measures
- Integration of emergency preparedness and response into strategic programming
- Strengthened external coordination with INGOs, UN agencies and donors and strategic positioning
- Increased ability to anticipate emergency funding needs and to access emergency funds
How does the Ready for Action (REACT) project work?
The Emergency Division supports programs in the project implementation. Services include:
- Capacity building on emergency response through capacity diagnoses and simulation exercises
- Facilitation of workshops to launch the preparedness process and help teams develop an EPR Plan
- Operational support to HQ and field teams in the response to emergencies and EPR plan follow-up
The projects targets HQ and field teams, with a focus on contexts that are most vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. It also targets local partners, particularly in contexts where Humanity & Inclusion may respond to emergencies by working through local NGOs. The process involves all departments, including management, programming, technical, logistics, finance, HR and security teams, both at HQ and field levels.
Download the Report:
This policy paper defines the themes of inclusive disaster risk reduction and explains how these activities fit into our mandate. It also identifies the target population and defines modalities of intervention–standard expected outcomes, standard activities–as well as monitoring and evaluation indicators.Sign up