Exceptional commitment to inclusion, accessibility, universal design; this is CBM’s Vietnam project which brings home the 2022 Zero Project Award today. The award celebrates CBM’s work in Vietnam which builds disability inclusive and disaster prepared communities.
CBM’s Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid Oliver Neuschäfer received the coveted international award on behalf of CBM during the Zero Project Conference 2022 at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. The hybrid event which spans three days, February 23-25, 2022, attracts world leaders, speakers from renowned organizations as well as innovations from around the world.
“This award is a great recognition of CBM’s work on disability inclusive disaster risk reduction. In times of climate change and with an increase in extreme weather conditions, persons with disabilities must be put at the centre of disaster risk reduction and preparedness. They must actively contribute to a safer environment in their communities so that no person is left behind when a disaster strikes,” Neuschäfer says.
The CBM Vietnam project is among the 76 awardees carefully selected from 380 nominations through a peer-review process by industry experts. The Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation, which promotes the rights of persons with disabilities globally. Supported by the UN, the Zero Project is also a platform to present particularly innovative and effective solutions for successful inclusion. This year’s focus is on accessibility.
Building climate resilient communities
Through our work on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR), CBM strives to reduce the impact of disasters on affected communities. We want to ensure that people with disabilities, older people, pregnant women, children, and other at-risk groups are not left behind when disaster happens.
“This award is an important recognition of CBM’s strategic global approach to Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR). Within our community development work, we have targeted investment to ensure that communities are better prepared to respond to disasters, and no one is left behind in a crisis,” says Dominique Schlupkothen, who heads the inclusive community-based development work at CBM.
CBM’s DIDRR work is informed through research with partners like the University of Cape Town. DIDRR is needed to ensure that the Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) approach contributes to sustainable, inclusive, and resilient communities that can withstand disasters.
“We encourage learning between programmes across the world and support others in making their disaster risk reduction activities disability inclusive. The work in Vietnam is very encouraging and we will continue to build on this success,” Schlupkothen says.
Why disaster risk reduction matters in Vietnam
Vietnam is a country prone to severe flooding and tropical storms. Every year, people are faced with unpredictable emergencies.
The 2017 flooding in the Vietnamese province of Ninh Binh displaced 15,000 when whole villages were temporarily cut off from the rest of the country. Houses, roads, and bridges were destroyed. It was worse for people with disabilities because they have less access to early warning information, evacuation efforts, safety shelters and supplies like food and medical assistance.
After assessing this situation, CBM partnered with Aid for Social Protection Foundation and started a project, Promotion of Disability-Inclusive and Disaster Prepared Communities in Nho Quan district, Ninh.
The project has set up inclusive self-help forums for the local population and provided accessible shelters. The innovative approach converted village cultural houses (usually a main and stable building in every village) into accessible shelters for persons with disabilities during flooding and landslides. CBM trainers equipped the cultural houses with essential disaster preparedness equipment such as loudspeakers, flashlights, generators, life jackets, signal lights, and raincoats. Since 2018, around 2,000 people with disabilities have thus been trained in evacuation drills in Vietnam and six barrier-free shelters have been built. 320 people were trained in managing DIDRR programmes.
Using this approach to inclusive risk prevention, CBM is now replicating this Vietnam project in other disaster-prone areas, such as in Yogyakarta Indonesia and in Dhaka Bangladesh. With the Zero Project Award, this approach is now also receiving international recognition and can hopefully be adopted and implemented in other countries by other states, partners, and stakeholders.
“In a world threatened by, and increasingly experiencing climate change, natural hazards, and conflict-related emergencies; this award is a testament to the importance of disability inclusive approaches to disaster risk reduction. We are already using what we have learned from this project elsewhere in the world, and we hope the award will help us to share the learnings of this approach more broadly,” Talal Waheed, Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor at CBM said. Between 2024 and 2026, CBM will replicate the project in more areas and implement it at community and district level.