Security and equality

The UN has written

“Disasters and other crises often exaggerate existing inequalities. But they also present opportunities to identify gaps in existing policies, to innovate new practices, and initiate greater efforts to correct for the uneven distribution of vulnerabilities”

The implementation of these conventions, however, will no doubt be challenged by longstanding patterns of structural inequality. As Lynn Bennett once said of Nepal’s social exclusion: “Successful policy reform must address not just the formal rules and procedures that are written down and enforced by law, but also the thicket of informal behaviours and deep- seated norms and values and networks of political alliances and obligations that stand between the formal policy statement and its actual implementation” (Bennett 2005: 2).

I believe current anti terrorism practice is fundamentally flawed because it is reactive and is not thinking issues through from all perspectives.

“A 2013 survey of over 5,000 persons with disabilities representing 126 countries conducted by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) found that only 20% could evacuate their living spaces without difficulty in the event of an emergency, highlighting the importance of accessibility during a national disaster (UNISDR 2013). Commenting on the report, the UNISDR head, Margareta Wahlström, stated: “The results of this survey are shocking. It clearly reveals that the key reason why a disproportionate number of disabled persons suffer and die in disasters is because their needs are ignored and neglected by the official planning process in the majority of situations. They are often left totally reliant on the kindness of family, friends and neighbors for their survival and safety: (UNISDR 2013). For example, “after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan the mortality rate among persons with disabilities was twice that of the rest of the population” (IFRC 2015, citing Government of Japan 2012)

Recognizing these systemic patterns of vulnerability, international humanitarian institutions have now come to a broad consensus that it is critical to consider disability-related issues in all stages of disaster planning and to include persons with disabilities as active and valuable stakeholders in disaster risk-reduction activities. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) calls upon states to take “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters” (UNCRPD 2006: Article 11). More recently, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) represents the historic “infusion of disability-related terms and concepts such as accessibility, inclusion, and universal design… these disability-related concepts will now serve the field of disaster risk reduction as important overarching disaster-related principles” (Stough & Kang 2015: 140).”

This report continually emphasise critical role of structural inequality.

A thought provoking example comes from the Dutch Bicycle Design Guide 2016 (CROW).

Bollards kill. A high proportion of elderly and disabled people cycle in the Netherlands and a common often serious incident is crashing into bollards, in twilight dark or wet, both in paths and at the side of paths. It seems these incidents were not bing recorded properly in hospitals and clinics, so following the Eisenhower dictum, the uninspected inevitably deteriorates.

Clive Durdle

Click to access Disaster-Disability-and-Difference_May2016_For-Accessible-PDF.pdf

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