The Dhaka Conference on Disability and Disaster concluded on 14 December 2015, with participants adopting the Dhaka Declaration. This document supports the implementation of the Sendai Framework by calling for inclusion and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in all disaster risk management programmes, including specific actions to be undertaken in the coming two years.
The Sendai Framework - a blueprint for inclusion in DRR
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted in Japan in March this year, has been widely hailed as the most inclusive of its kind; not only was the process leading up to the conference and the event itself extremely participatory of persons with disabilities, but the final document, with multiple references to accessibility, inclusion and universal design, provides an outline that can lead to a safer, more resilient world for all.
Concrete actions for implementation
The Dhaka Conference supports Sendai implementation, by identifying concrete actions to rollout the framework with meaningful participation and contributions by persons with disabilities and their organizations in planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting processes.
During the opening ceremony, Mr. Mofazzal Hossain Chowdury Maya, Bir Bikrom, MP (Bangladesh Minister of Disaster Management and Relief) highlighted how inclusive legislation in Bangladesh has created a shift in perception of persons with disabilities, stating: “…people with disability are no more a burden for the household, rather they are considered an asset…”
This observation reflects the Sendai Framework, as Jerry Velasquez (UNISDR's Head of Advocacy and Outreach) noted, pointing out the ingenuity that persons with disabilities possess in finding solutions, as well as the well-known fact that they are disproportionately affected by disaster.
More than 470 participants from 22 countries attended the conference, including more than 150 persons with disabilities. Over the three days opportunities were provided for sharing ideas, innovative practices and new knowledge and tools, for advocating for disability inclusion in all disaster concerned policies and resource allocation, to focus on how to ensure ‘mainstream’ DRR and Humanitarian actors’ work becomes more inclusive, while keeping contributions of persons with disabilities, Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) and organizations working on disability issues, as core to all efforts.
The Dhaka Declartion has specific calls to action, including:
- At least two countries per region to have representation of persons with disabilities on all disaster management committees by the end of 2017, given their higher rates of mortality in disaster events, and
- Development of action plans that “reduce and remove barriers that limit leadership and the participation of persons with disabilities in decision making by the end of 2017
- A second conference on Disability and Disaster Risk Management to review the progress against specific actions by end of 2017
The Conference was organised by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, the Ministry for Social Welfare, the Centre for Disability in Development and the National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD), with CBM as one of the sponsors.