Disaster Risk Reduction & Management for Garment Factories

This class topic focused on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and the overarching topic of inclusive emergency preparedness for cities and countries. Pointing to the Sendai Conference that created the Sendai Framework for inclusive development around accessibility measures for persons with disabilities in cities, in DRR, and DRM. After the Sendai Conference, the Dhaka Conference created the Dhaka Declaration that followed expanded upon the work done in Sandai. As we discussed the implications for DRR and DRM and how they are tailored to address the disasters that will come with climate change, the Dhaka Declaration made me think of the measures or lack thereof of DRR and DRM for the industry that runs it economy. Specifically in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the issue of garment factories in the garment industry has been a major point of civil upheaval and has been subjected to another form of disaster not addressed in DRR or DRM frameworks in Sendai or Dhaka – industrial disasters.

In 2013, Rana Plaza a major 8-story garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing over a thousand garment workers who were majority women. It is still the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history and not much has changed in terms of policies, measures, or frameworks to protect citizens from another industrial disaster in the future. Unfortunately, many more small-sized factory failures and collapses have occurred since Rana Plaza in 2013 in Bangladesh. This leads me to question the feasibility of the Dhaka Declaration for addressing points of inclusivity in Dhaka or countrywide DRR or DRM when in the industries that run Bangladesh’s economy lacks the very same measures to protect its citizens. In short, I think that DRM and DRM should be instilled not only as a city or country plan for climate change but also throughout a country’s economy and industry as well.




Disability Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction

Between the ever-worsening impacts of climate change and rapid urbanization around the world, the risks posed by natural disasters increase every day.  Now more than ever before, disaster risk reduction is vitally important for protecting infrastructure, the economy, and most importantly, human lives. Since the 1990s, the United Nations has promoted disaster risk reduction as a crucial part of sustainable development. In 2015, the United Nations held the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. At this conference, participants approved the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as the successor to the Hyogo Framework. Because of the UN’s emphasis on the intersection of sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also include specific references to disaster risk reduction. It is very important that the UN continues to push this relationship between disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, especially as it relates to urbanization and the environment.

In recent years, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has become a role model to other international organizations for their heavy focus on accessibility to their conferences and inclusion of persons with disabilities in their documents. The WCDRR in Sendai is considered by many the first international meeting to create a highly accessible environment, which allowed many persons with disabilities to participate in the conference. The Sendai Conference did an excellent job of leading by example on disability inclusion. It is very significant that the disaster risk reduction field has made such strides in inclusion and realized that they cannot achieve their goals without considering and including persons with disabilities, a population that makes up around 15% of the world’s population. 

Luckily, the UNDRR did not stop there. In 2017, they held the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico, as a way to continue the work and check the progress of the Sendai Framework. This meeting also emphasized accessibility in many ways including having International Sign Language interpreters, accessible documentation, accessible transportation, and allowing remote participation through web-conferencing, remote hubs, and telepresence robots. The UNDRR should continue setting the example for disability-inclusion in international meetings, and other groups should begin instituting similar accessibility requirements for their respective meetings. In order for the UN to fully achieve any of its goals, it cannot forget to include and consult 15% of the world population.

Making Cities Resilient & Inclusive

With the impending climate crisis, the planet has already seen an increase in destructive natural disasters. From wildfires in California to severe flooding in Bangladesh, this is just the beginning of what could arise from climate change. While the main concern should be to tackle climate change at its core i.e., greenhouse gas emission, there is no harm in establishing disaster risk plans for when they are necessary. Continue reading

Urban climate resiliency for all

The Dhaka Declaration was completed in May, 2018, and with it, the term “Nothing About Us Without Us” was coined. This Declaration was the first of its kind in terms of being entirely focused on persons with disabilities and the role they play in disaster risk reduction and management. This term encompasses PWD feelings of being excluded from previous frameworks and conventions that directly impacted them. It also fits perfectly within the main goal of Dhaka which is, “recognizing the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all human beings, to experience non-discrimination, protection, full accessibility and effective participation in decision-making processes, equalization of opportunities, individual autonomy and independence of PWD.”

Click to access Dhaka-Declaration-2018.pdf

Dhaka emphasized the importance of linking disability-inclusive disaster risk management with the SGDs on the understanding that inclusion builds the resilience of whole societies, safeguards development gains, and minimizes disaster losses. Urban planning is a monumental part of this document, at all governance levels: local, national and global. SDG11 is particularly important here as it connects sustainable, accessible and resilient urban development.

The entire concept of a city space being more resilient when it includes all people rests on the idea that diverse communities are able to better weather the storms (pun intended) and crises that hit them. When a city is able to safely and equitably accommodate PWD, evacuation routes are effective for everyone, the physical environment is better suited to shelter and protect people, transportation routes are clearer, and public offices are open to new ideas and participation from all kinds of people. In short, Dhaka emphasizes a people-centered approach to disaster risk management and reduction on all levels; one that ensures the meaningful participation, inclusion and leadership of PWD.

In order to make all areas, but especially urban centers, more resilient in the face of increasing intense weather events due to climate change, diversity and inclusion needs to be the center focus of urban planners. Urban areas need to be multi-use and open to everyone to allow for the effective functioning of all types of businesses, social and cultural activities with the ability to bounce-back after crises.


The Risk of Improper Disaster Risk Planning

Our last aspect in exploring inclusive sustainable cities was disaster risk reduction and disaster management. This subject is important when considering cities because of their huge populations, so there needs to be precautionary plans to anticipate natural disasters or emergencies and to also have the resiliency and adaptation to recover from these situations and hopefully prevent them. Risk reduction refers to the practice of reducing disaster risks through efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters. It involves a combination of hazard (frequency, magnitude, location), exposure (who is at risk), and vulnerability (susceptibility of an individual to be impacted by hazards). Risk management on the other hand is the application of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies that aim to prevent new disaster risks, reduce existing risks, manage residual risks, and strengthen the resilience and reduction of losses. There are three main categories risk management falls under: prospective, corrective, and compensatory. Inclusive disaster risk reduction and management takes all these steps further by making sure all people — those with disabilities, youth, elderly, etc. — are able to be prepared and included in plans. All aspects from first responders, to alerts, to evacuation need to be able to adapt and help with all people to ensure their safety. Continue reading

Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (and robots)

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), as defined by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, “Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention” (UNISDR). Because disasters are often unforeseen and are due to natural phenomenon, being prepared for their effects is extremely important and affects everyone. Disaster Risk Management (DRM) is basically the implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction. For example, Disaster Risk Reduction aims to reduce the damage caused by a hurricane and Disaster Risk Management is the implementation of a preparedness program. Continue reading

Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction

This post focuses on DRR and DRM, the Sindai conference and how this can change how countries rebuild after a disaster.

This week’s class focused around the DRR and DRM and the importance of inclusive emergency preparedness. The UN had a large role in raising awareness for the importance of an inclusive emergency framework with the Sendai Conference, the subsequent Global Platform, and the Dhaka conference. As climate change causes more frequent, more damaging and deadly natural disasters, the global community is more empowered than ever to create inclusive sustainable development plans for disaster relief.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) have been tailored to be inclusive through numerous stakeholders. There is a concept in the disaster stakeholder group that natural disasters are in fact not natural (even if the associated hazard is) and only “by reducing and managing conditions of hazard, exposure and vulnerability that we can prevent losses and alleviate the impacts of disasters”[1]. DRR and DRM focus on managing risks, not just disasters, it focuses on the policy objective of anticipating and reducing risk. Both the Dhaka and the Sendai conference focused their efforts on DRR, DRM and peoples with disabilities. Due to the disproportionate amount of casualties that people with disabilities experience during disasters and emergency situations, the UN and other stakeholders have focused on creating specific measures that allow for people of all abilities, age, gender, race and poverty level to have equal amounts of protection as abled people.


The Sendai Conference was held with this in mind. The conference is heralded as the benchmark for an inclusive conference, with every effort made to make it as inclusive as possible. The Sendai Conference was the 3rd global UN Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan and was held in March 2015 and funded through the Nippon Foundation. What emerged from the conference was a non-binding agreement that arched over 15 years that highlights the need for individual states to work with other stakeholders to work to improve preparedness for disasters. Additionally, the Sendai conference was impactful as it altered the focus of disaster management to disaster risk reduction and highlighted the importance of rebuilding cities in an inclusive and sustainable way that would be less susceptible to natural disasters. The conference integrated both advocates for persons with disabilities as well as the elderly.  The conference outlines seven targets and four priorities for action and implementation guidelines to aid stakeholders to reduce disaster risks [2]. These measures need to be enacted in every country because natural disasters are becoming more prevalent and powerful and often, when disaster strikes, cities rebuild with little change. This leads to a reemergence of problems. In developing countries, one disaster can wipe out decades of development work and millions of dollars’ worth of investment, however, it presents an opportunity to rebuild smarter and more inclusive.

Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

It has become apparent that the world’s exposure to disasters has increased faster than its ability to reduce risk and vulnerabilities to people and infrastructures. Climate change is strengthening storms and increasing the damage caused by natural disasters. Specific reports from 2004-2014 showed the disaster mortality rate of persons with disabilities was 2-4 times higher than other members of communities. Continue reading

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

As climate change continues to unfold, more and more disasters are occurring. Between 1980 and 2010, the number of natural disasters tripled globally. In order to slow down these natural disasters, we must slow down climate change. However, in the meantime, it is important to focus on both disaster risk reduction, to reduce the risks that people face during natural disasters, and disaster risk management, to deal with what happens when these disasters do occur.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNISDR, holds many conferences regarding actions to be taken regarding disaster risk reduction. The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction takes place every 10 years in order to develop plans and practices to strengthen nations’ capacities to resist and adapt to natural disasters. The most recent of these conferences was the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which took place in Sendai, Japan, in 2015. Out of this conference came the Sendai Framework, which includes seven global targets and four priorities for action, including investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness to improve recovery efforts. The Sendai Framework emphasizes the importance of state actors, while also prioritizing collaboration with other stakeholders.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction takes place more frequently than the World Conferences, to continue the important work. The GP meets every two years, and the most recent Platform took place in Cancun in 2017.

However, the United Nations is not the only international body working to reduce disaster risk. When natural disasters occur, they affect everyone differently. Persons with disabilities can be particularly vulnerable to disasters if there is not an inclusive evacuation plan. Non-state actors such as the DIDRRN and the International Disability Alliance are working towards more inclusive language and more inclusive policy. At the Dhaka Conference on Disability and Disaster Risk Management, disaster risk was assessed through the lens of disability inclusion. The Dhaka Conference resulted in the Dhaka Declaration, which includes tangible, specific indicators for inclusion. In the 2017 Global Platform, the Dhaka Declaration was incorporated into the Sendai Framework for even more inclusive disaster risk management on a global level.

Persons with disabilities need to be included not just in disaster risk reduction and management, but also in these conferences. The Niplon Foundation of Japan helped both the Sendai Conference and the GP 2017 to be as inclusive as possible, along with the support of the IDPP. The Global Platform even featured robots controlled by people in hubs who were not able to attend the conference. Participation by persons with disability is integral to ensure that disaster risk policy is inclusive and benefits everyone.