His Excellency Governor Boyd McCleary is urging that greater consideration be given to persons in the Territory who are affected by physical or mental disabilities.
The Governor’s comments come in a message delivered on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction which is observed worldwide on October 13, under the theme Living with Disability and Disasters.
Governor McCleary noted that persons living with disabilities are no less affected by the disasters to which others are vulnerable. “In fact, depending on the type of disability, they are even more susceptible to the impact of disasters and therefore, their specific needs must be incorporated into disaster mitigation and planning,” he stated.
The Governor commended those who have already created disaster plans that incorporate the specific needs of persons with disabilities. “Knowing the limitations of disabled persons and planning accordingly is not optional, it’s essential. Don’t wait until you are faced with a situation that requires the implementation of a disaster plan only to realise that it is still on your to-do list,” he said, adding, “It is far better to have invested time and energy in crafting a disaster plan that’s applicable to your circumstances and not ever have to implement it, than to be caught in a situation where you need one and do not have one.”
The observance of IDDR, which began in 1989, is spearheaded by the United Nations. It is viewed by the UN General Assembly as a way to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
It is estimated that more than one billion persons worldwide, live with a disability. This year’s observance of IDDR is regarded as an opportune time to recognise their role in fostering greater resilience.
In his speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted that persons with disabilities tend to excluded from disaster planning. “Unfortunately, most persons with disabilities have never participated in disaster risk management or related planning and decision making processes. They suffer disproportionately high levels of disaster-related mortality and injuries.”
He further noted that “early warning systems, public awareness campaigns and other responses often fail to consider the needs of persons with disabilities, putting them an unnecessarily elevated risk and sending a harmful message of inequality. We can change this situation by including persons with disabilities in disaster resilience initiatives and policy planning.”
He added that “inclusion saves lives. And it empowers persons with disabilities to take ownership of their own safety and that of their community.”
The Governor’s message will be aired in its entirety on ZBVI 780 AM at 8:10 a.m. and rebroadcast at 5:35 p.m. on Monday 14. The inclusion of the disabled in disaster planning will also be featured in the upcoming FOCUS programme presented by the Department of Disaster Management.
The observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction is intended to raise awareness about the importance of disaster risk reduction while also encouraging persons, organisations and governments to participate in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.