Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Risk Management

This week’s readings pointed to important frameworks and forums on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster risk management (DRM): the Sendai Framework, the Dhaka Declaration, the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP), and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Each of these frameworks/forums are interrelated and support the goals of one another. However, I found that most of these frameworks/forums mostly referenced the Sendai Framework as the basis for much of their work. The Sendai Framework builds on the Hyogo Framework for Action (Sendai Framework 12) and one of its goals over the next 15 years is to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods across many areas of life for persons, business, communities and countries (Sendai Framework 12). The Framework notes that achieving the above stated outcome requires integrated and inclusive leadership in the participation and implementation processes (Sendai Framework 12). Of note in the Sendai Framework is its mention of persons with disabilities and universal design, an initiative that supports the needs of persons with disabilities. The fourth guiding principle of the Sendai Framework is to promote inclusion of those “disproportionately affected by disasters” in DRM, calling for the recognition of persons with disabilities among other marginalized and vulnerable groups (Sendai Framework 13). The Dhaka Declaration on Disability and Disaster Risk Management was adopted in 2015 at the Dhaka Conference on Disability & Disaster Risk Management. Hosting this conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh was meaningful as Dhaka has experienced many unfortunate disasters themselves, such as the 2012 garment factory fire and the seasonal monsoons that bring immense flooding. Important points highlighted in the Declaration include the common theme that data on disability is limited (Dhaka Declaration 1). Additionally, I found surprising and sad that while the exposure of persons, properties, and livelihoods globally to disasters has increased more rapidly than our ability to reduce both risk and vulnerabilities (Dhaka Declaration1). The GP 2017 was held in Cancun, Mexico and its Leaders’ Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction report mentions ‘vulnerable development’ and ‘vulnerable poor,’ but makes no mention of ‘disability’ or ‘persons with disabilities.’ I found this surprising and disappointing. The GFDRR helps with the implementation of the Sendai Framework by integrating DRM and climate change adaptation into development strategies and investment projects. I am interested to learn more about the GFDRR’s inclusion of persons with disabilities in their decision-making on funding. 

DRR and DRM are essential when thinking about inclusive sustainable development because persons with disabilities are at higher risks for vulnerabilities in these situations, as they are in almost all areas of life, including in health, food security, water access, and in physical infrastructure. For example, in a report titled, “Addressing the Health Needs of People with Disabilities in India,” it is stated that persons with disabilities in India “need higher and special healthcare compared to the general population” (Senjam and Singh 80). In reference to my project, which address the problem that persons with disabilities face greater burdens in accessing quality health care and receiving universal health care coverage compared to persons without disabilities, DRM and DRR are relevant in addressing 1) the physical component of health care access, 2) the mental health component of disability, and 3) the residual health effects from disasters themselves. Section 30 part (c) of the Sendai Framework states that critical facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and other physical infrastructures, must be strengthened and “disaster-resilient” (Sendai Framework 19). DRM and DRR can help “provide psychosocial support and mental health services for all people in need” following disasters (Sendai Framework 22). Mental health is commonly glanced over, yet this part of health care is ever-more paramount, particularly for persons with disabilities who face unequal treatment and access in many areas of their lives. The Sendai Framework states that it is important to enhance cooperation between health authorities and other relevant health actors to strengthen a country’s capacity for DRM in health, adding that the construction of “resilient health systems” are necessary, relating to the first point about physicality. I had never thought much about DRM and DRR as it relates to my capstone project, but each week I am constantly reminded that all of the frameworks/forums/policies/organizations we learn about are interrelated in some way. 

My capstone project might help realize some of the goals outlined in the Sendai Framework and Dhaka Declaration, not in my findings and discussion sections, but perhaps in the recommendations section where I intend to describe how India can move forward with inclusive health development. In this section, I can bring up the Sendai Framework’s goals of constructing “disaster resilient” physical health infrastructure and developing inclusive health programs that respond to disasters. However, I must reinforce a point made in the Dhaka Declaration that “inclusion builds the resilience of the whole of society, safeguards development gains and minimizes disaster losses” (Dhaka Declaration 1). As such, my recommendations to include DRM and DRR in India’s future health development initiatives must emphasize that inclusion of persons with disabilities will strengthen the disaster response for everyone and more generally, will help promote resilient development for all of Indian society. I am now thinking about making my recommendation section DRM/DRR focused, as I feel that this is a significant gap in health development programs for persons with disabilities in India, especially given India’s large population of persons with disabilities. Other literature on inclusive DRM and DRR includes an article titled “Inclusive Disaster and Emergency Management for Persons with Disabilities,” and from a brief skim, I already see connections to the CRPD, Hyogo Framework for Action, and the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (seeing the connection between all of these frameworks is really exciting and eye-opening!). I also see a potential section of my literature review being dedicated to DRM and DRR as it relates to health. I am open to your thoughts, of course, and really welcome any feedback you might have!