Extreme natural phenomena, which are natural disasters, pose a serious threat to all communities, but especially to people with disabilities. In response to these challenges, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is working to address the challenges. The United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Council (UNDRR) conducted the 2023. global survey. The recently published report is a key source of insight into how 16 percent of the of the world’s population are coping with the effects of natural disasters and climate change that affect them directly. Against the backdrop of their increasing frequency and intensity, the study underscores the need to incorporate their perspective in developing more effective risk management strategies. People with disabilities, for years marginalized in decision-making processes, are now gaining a voice that can contribute to better planning and responses to global challenges in the face of climate change.
UNDRR Global Survey
The UNDRR Global Survey is an effort to understand how people with disabilities around the world cope with the challenges of natural disasters. The survey is being implemented between January and March 2023. covered a wide range of issues, touching on disaster risk management.
Scope and methodology of the study
The survey was conducted in 132 countries, representing significant geographic and cultural coverage and demonstrating its global reach and importance. A total of 6342 responses were collected, a noticeable increase over the 5717 obtained in the previous survey a decade ago. The methodology included both quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques, including online surveys and individual interviews. This combination of methods provided deep insights into the experiences, needs and challenges of people with disabilities in the context of natural disasters.
Main areas of interest
The study focused on several key areas:
- Disaster preparedness for people with disabilities – the study looked at the degree of preparedness for potential disasters, including personal plans and awareness of existing evacuation procedures;
- Accessibility and effectiveness of risk information – it analyzed whether disaster risk information and warnings are accessible and understandable to people with disabilities;
- Awareness of disaster risk reduction (DRR) plans – the survey assessed the extent to which people with disabilities are aware of disaster risk management plans at the national and local levels;
- Participation in decision-making processes – data was collected on the participation of people with disabilities in decision-making processes regarding disaster risk management.
Purpose and significance of the study
The goal of the survey was not only to collect data, but more importantly to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities in the face of natural disasters. The results are intended to inform those responsible for policies and strategies at the global and local levels to better respond to the needs of this group in emergencies. This study is an important step toward creating more effective disaster risk management systems that take into account the needs of all members of our society.
Natural disasters – how can people with disabilities be helped?
In order to effectively include people with disabilities in disaster risk management, specific measures are needed. First, governments should develop policies that allow active participation in disaster planning and decision-making regardless of fitness level. It is also crucial to apply universal design principles in DRR to make the infrastructure accessible and resilient, taking into account the needs of all users. Equally important is raising awareness and building capacity among people with disabilities, which increases their resilience and preparedness. Education and skill development are key to effective emergency response.
Collaboration among stakeholders, including authorities, NGOs and people with disabilities themselves, is essential to developing inclusive disaster management strategies. The last recommendation is to include the diverse needs and experiences of people with disabilities in DRR policies. Only through a holistic and inclusive approach can risk be effectively managed, addressing the needs of all community members.
Natural disasters – the urgent need for action
Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes have particularly harsh effects on people with disabilities. Lack of access to information, limited evacuation options and inadequate crisis management plans often put them at greater risk. Despite a decade since the previous survey, progress in integrating them into disaster risk management activities remains limited. The study found no significant differences in the progress made in different regions of the world. This underscores the global nature of the problem. Progress entails a commitment to creating a world in which everyone, regardless of ability and capacity, is prepared and protected from possible disasters.