People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable members of society when natural disasters strike or conflict erupts. Yet, because of physical or mental limitations and their general isolation from others, they often do not receive the humanitarian aid and services they need. People with disabilities may face great difficulty in reaching food and aid distribution points, communicating their needs to others, and registering for services in refugee and displaced persons camps. In the past, and even today, humanitarian organizations have failed to take people with disabilities into consideration when planning emergency responses.
Handicap International is dedicated to improving the inclusion of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups through its own emergency response programs, and by working with other humanitarian groups to include people with disabilities in their responses.
It's also vital to include people with disabilities as communities prepare for future disasters. Where there is a high risk of natural disasters, we help communities prepare as best they can for this eventuality.
By having people with disabilities participate in disaster preparedness committees, the community becomes both aware of their presence and their more specific needs. For instance, if we know there is a deaf person in the community, we might implement a system of colored flags, in addition to the warning sirens already in place, to ensure everyone knows what the threat is, and the appropriate evacuation orders.