In emergency situations of natural disaster or conflict, people with disabilities are very often excluded or neglected. This is mainly due to the exclusionary policies and practices of governments, service providers and humanitarian actors, attitudinal barriers, and lack of knowledge regarding the specific challenges that people with disabilities face. Additionally, there is a lack of participation by people with disabilities in contingency planning and disaster risk management.
In the short-term, emergency situations can cause injury and malnutrition, leading to disability. In the longer term, destruction to health and education services can lead to higher rates of disease, and for example, lower rates of vaccination, which again can result in disability. In post-war emergency situations, armed violence can remain for many years and mental health problems can also persist in war-affected populations for many years.
There is need to include people with disabilities in the planning of humanitarian responses, for example regarding the provision of inclusive and accessible shelters, sanitation, healthcare, food and education. Inclusive emergency response and collaboration is supported by articles 11 and 32 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
This key list gathers introductory information, manuals and guides, specific resources for mental health and education in emergency situations, and case studies about people with disabilities in emergency situations. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This study quantifies the funding provided by donors to meet the humanitarian needs of two vulnerable groups, older people and people with disabilities. Projects submitted to humanitarian aid appeals were examined, and the findings conclude that the needs of both older people and people with disabilities are being overlooked by the humanitarian system
Using a disability conceptual framework to anthropologically review disasters, this article emphasises the needs of those with fewest resources and highlights the benefit of the inclusion of disabled people in disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans. This article is useful to people interested in disability and disasters
Human Organization, Vol 68, No 1
This conference paper provides an extensive list of recommendations and policies to ensure inclusive aid in emergency situations, including tips for response, planning and rehabilitation. It is useful to people interested in people with disabilities in humanitarian emergency situations
"Disasters are always inclusive. Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Emergency Situations"
7 - 8 November 2007
This paper examines the relationship between disability and disaster. The definition of disability is explored, as well as implications for policy and practice in emergency management,. The need for the inclusion, partnership and participation of people with disabilities in disaster management and planning is highlighted. This paper is useful to anyone interested in disability and disasters
"This paper outlines the importance of applying a structural approach to vulnerability to disasters and presents evidence on the relationship between disability and disaster-related risks in low and middle income countries"
Note: Accepted under the "Addressing Inequalities" Global Thematic Consultation - Call for Proposals for Background Papers, Oct 2012
This chapter explores why people with disabilities are often ignored or excluded at all levels of disaster preparedness, mitigation and intervention, and the mechanisms now in place to redress this, including the recent UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and what they are doing to make themselves more resilient to disasters
The 27 feature theme articles in this issue of Forced Migration Reveiw show why disabled people who have been displaced need particular consideration and highlight some of the initiatives taken (locally and at the global level) to change thinking and practices, so that their vulnerability is recognised, their voices heard, and responses are inclusive
This presentation presents the good practices, experiences, context and ways forward for disability and public shelter in emergencies and emphasises the need for inclusive emergency planning. This presentation is useful for people interested in disability and public shelter in emergencies
UCL Research Challenges 2009
This factsheet presents a general overview of disability in conflict and emergencies. Case studies are highlighted to emphasise that disabled people are often the most at risk in emergency situations, that disasters and crises lead to disability, and the importance of good planning and accessiblility. This resource is useful to people interested in disability, conflict and emergencies
This article provides general information about why people with disabilities are vulnerable and highlights Handicap International’s emergency responses including details about Disability Focal Points (DFP). It concludes by making inclusive recommendations to other emergency actors. This article is useful for people interested in disability in emergency situations
VOICE out loud, Issue 5
This report is based on the results of a global consultation carried out in 2015 as a contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit and is intended to better identify the changes needed for a disability inclusive humanitarian response. A total of 769 responses were collected through 3 online surveys targeting persons with disabilities, disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and humanitarian actors. The results demonstrate that while most humanitarian actors pledge to target vulnerable persons in crisis time, few of them are putting in place specific mechanisms and procedures to effectively reach to, and taking into account, persons with disabilities in their programmes. Addressing these challenges is a human right imperative and has also to do with an effective implementation of principled humanitarian aid. This ambition requires changes in policies and practices within the humanitarian community as a whole
This report “documents positive practices and ongoing challenges to promote disability inclusion across UNHCR’s and its partners’ work in multiple countries and multiple displacement contexts. The report provides lessons and recommendations for other organizations and the wider humanitarian community on engaging persons with disabilities at all levels of humanitarian work. It draws on consultations with over 700 displaced persons, including persons with disabilities, their families, and humanitarian staff, in eight countries”
Note: This report is also offered in plain text format
"This factsheet provides base level information to practitioners for awareness raising, training, advocacy, project design and proposal writing. The information may be used and sent out widely, with reference to the Kenya Red Cross, The Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya, CBM and Handicap International. The overall information in this factsheet is also applicable to older persons and other vulnerable groups"
This article examines the inclusion of people with disabilities in situations of risk, including armed conflict. It highlights that a combination of mainstreaming disability and specifically targeting groups within humanitarian work is most likely to lead to greater inclusion and long-term benefits for the whole community. This article is useful to people interested in disability, conflict and emergencies
To access this article, users need to register (free) online
The Lancet, Vol 374, Issue 9704
This factsheet presents information about disability in disaster, emergency, and conflict situations. It provides details about the need to include persons with disabilities, a legal framework to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and how to respond to the need of persons with disabilities. Links are provided to related resources. This resource is useful for people interested in disability and humanitarian situations
This paper describes the difficulties people with disabilities face following a disaster. The paper discusses disabled people's rehabilitation needs both during the 'acute' phase immediately after the disaster, and the longer-term reconstruction phase and discusses both institutional and community-based rehabilitation approaches are discussed
"This paper is to inform and raise awareness about the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and explain the significance of the UN Convention to the work of Emergency and humanitarian assistance. It includes points of recommendation from the IDDC Task Group on Conflict and Emergencies on how the needs of persons with disabilities and their families can best be addressed in emergency and humanitarian crisis situations"
"This paper is intended for use by non-governmental organisations active in the field of humanitarian aid, including emergency aid, rehabilitation, disaster preparedness and conflict prevention. It is also intended to be a useful summary guide for policy makers and donors active in the field of emergencies and humanitarian assistance to include disability issues"
This article identifies the issues related to the inclusion of disabled people in the emergency planning process and identifies the information and support needs of disabled people. Written in the wake of US disasters (September 11th, hurricanes), the article discusses options for inclusion of disabled people in the emergency planning process
This technical brief provides useful information about waste disposal in emergencies for people with physical disabilities. Latrine and bathing designs and modifications are given based upon best practice from the field. This document is useful for people interested in excreta disposal for physically vulnerable people in emergencies
The paper highlights identified gaps and issues regarding specific protection and concerns of people with disabilities in emergency situations. Detailed priority measures are recommended for all stakeholders providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons to provide full access to assistance and protection to persons with disabilities in the design, implementation and monitoring of their programmes
This advocacy briefing paper presents key information about the inclusion of persons with disabilities and most vulnerable people in humanitarian response. It highlights key facts and issues during humanitarian emergencies such as lack of access, gaps and legal policy and frameworks. It outlines practical steps can be taken by humanitarian actors at different levels and suggests ways to measure progress
Advocacy briefing paper
This issue focuses on the inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency relief efforts and concludes that “more must be done to ensure the needs and rights of people with disabilities are fully recognised in disaster risk reduction and emergency responses. Accelerating progress will require inclusive humanitarian programming and the use of technological solutions to be effectively promoted and incentivised, and people with disabilities and their organisations to be involved from the outset in the design and implementation of policies and programmes”
IDS Rapid Response Briefing 8
This resource presents information about an international conference on disability in conflicts and emergencies which focused upon meeting the needs of vulnerable and disabled people in humanitarian situations. It features a summary from the chair of the conference, participant interviews, and conference presentations. This website would be useful to those who work with disabled and vulnerable people in conflict and disasters situations
"Reaching the most Vulnerable" Conference
30-31 May 2011
The ILO's InFocus programme on crisis response and reconstruction has focused particularly on disabled ex-combatants in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Namibia. Projects in these countries have assisted governments, agencies, local NGOs and organisations of persons with disabilities to provide vocational skills training, mostly in mainstream vocational training centres but also in special rehabilitation centres
This aims of this guide are threefold: it provides awareness on the issue of egress and the implications for people with disability; it identifies egress features that are normally designed into buildings and preparing risk assessments and emergency evacuation plans; and it offers guidance on providing safe egress for people with disabilities. This resource would be of interest to anyone with an interest in disaster management, disability and safety
This report presents information from the e-discussion which shared information and knowledge about the needs of people with disabilities and good practices for inclusion in situations such as natural and man-made disasters, emergencies, violence and conflict, scarcity of resources, and development efforts, all of which will be affected by climate change. Related resources and e-discussion questions are provided in the appendices
Impact of Climate Change on People with Disabilities
E-Discussion hosted by The Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) in partnership with the World Bank’s Disability and Development team
8-12 December 2009
Manuals and guides
This practical manual provides technical guidelines for physical and communication accessibility to ensure that persons with disabilities can access all emergency facilities. Illustrations with key points are highlighted. These guidelines would be useful for emergency stakeholders who are interested in inclusive accessible designs for emergency facilities
This document is a reference guide for disaster relief planners and service providers. It is intended to outline the legal standards relating to equal access for disabled people. Specifically, this resource describes access requirements that relate to mass care, housing and human services. A key feature of this resource, is a glossary and summary of relevant US legislation and law. This would be useful for anyone interested in disability and disaster situations
This resource kit offers ..."practical ideas on how to improve services and protection for people with disabilities and enhance their inclusion and participation in community affairs. It is based on the findings of five country field studies, as well global desk research into other refugee and internally displaced persons programmes and an analysis of existing international policies and practices relating to displaced persons with disabilities. It would be useful to United Nations, non-governmental organisation, community-based organisation and disabled people's organisation field staff working with refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons with disabilities"
Adapted from the 'Disability Task Force', this checklist provides useful guidelines about general protection and inclusion principles for people with disabilites or injuries in emergency situations. The following topics are highlighted: health, food and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; psychosocial support; reconstruction and shelter; livelihoods; and education. This checklist would be useful for practitioners interested in the protection and inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency situations
This is a chapter in Guidelines for planning in the re-building process, a resource pack that covers a wide range of aspects of post-disaster work, based on the experience of post-tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka. Chapter five covers disability aspects of reconstruction, and draws attention to disabled people's special needs in terms of housing, healthcare, etc. The chapter also deals with the prevention of disabilities in a post-disaster situation and helping disabled people to develop their livelihoods
Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and sometimes without warning. The American Red Cross developed this manual for disabled people to prepare them for disaster or emergency situations. It aims to elevate the self-confidence of disabled people based on knowledge, preparation, and practice, giving them the best chances of recovery from a disaster.
The booklet comes with personal assessments and a checklist for how to prepare for disaster. Although the booklet has been prepared for North America, it mentions aspects that will be valuable in most other countries and regions
This paper is aimed at disabled people. It gives emergency tips for people with specific disabilities such as mobility disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, visual disabilities and others on what to do in the case of an emergency. Tips include preparing an emergency kit, making an evacuation plan, and writing down instructions to assist emergency workers. Although aimed at disabled people in the United States, the tips have some relevance to disabled people in the South
This manual provides guidance on the design and building of barrier-free emergency shelters that are used by all people within a community following a natural disaster, such as a flood or landslide. It provides information with examples of the essential aspects to consider when designing and building barrier-free emergency shelters, such as ramps, toilets, cooking areas, waterpumps and shelters. Recommendations are also highlighted to ensure accessible environments for people with specific disabilities. The information for this manual is based upon a 'Mainstreaming disability and people with disabilities into disaster management in Nepal' project, which was implemented by Handicap International in December 2007. This manual is useful for people interested in the design and building of barrier-free emergency shelters
After the 2004 floods in Bangladesh, Handicap International supported the most vulnerable groups through mitigation activities as well as disaster prepareness and management, with a particular focus on the special needs of the persons with disabilities. The purpose of this publication is to provide practical ideas and concrete knowledge to include disability issues in disaster management. Although it is based on floods, ideas can be adapted to any type of disaster
This document provides practical guidance and examples on how to remove barriers and make interventions more inclusive during humanitarian crises and natural disasters
This Guidance Note provides DFID staff with an overview of how to ensure the needs of older persons and people with disabilities, including people with injuries and chronic diseases, are addressed in humanitarian response
This manual aims to build professionals' capacities to mainstream disability in disaster risk reduction and to improve general knowledge on disability and disaster risk reduction. It is designed in a logical modular sequence, providing practical tools and guidelines for topic-related training sessions. Each training session is detailed with suggested time allocation, methods, tools and learning objectives. The information is based upon a 'Mainstreaming disability and people with disabilities into disaster management in Nepal' project, which was implemented by Handicap International in December 2007. A CD-Rom is available to accompany the manual. This manual is useful for people interested in mainstreaming disability into disaster risk reduction
This handbook establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response. It provides a new chapter on protection principles, which considers the protection and safety of populations affected by disaster or armed conflict as an integral part of humanitarian response. It describes core standards for effective and accountable humanitarian response and advocacy, and outlines the minimum standards in the following four technical chapters: water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion; food security and nutrition; shelter, settlement and non-food items; and health action. Each minimum standard highlights key actions, key indicators and guidance notes
This edition also addresses emerging issues, such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, early recovery of services and livelihoods, cash transfers, and civil-military relations. Understanding and supporting local responses to disaster is a priority reflected in the whole handbook, as is reinforcing the capacity of local actors
This handbook is useful to all working in humanitarian response
Disability and Vulnerability Focal Points (DVFPs) are one of the ways in which Handicap International addresses the need to take effective, concrete action on behalf of those made vulnerable – including people with disabilities – in emergencies. DVFPs are organised as a network including DVFP structures and almost always mobile teams, whose role is making sure that aid reaches vulnerable people, rather than waiting for vulnerable people to reach the aid. This guide is intended as a practical tool for setting up a complete DVFP mechanism
This toolkit suggests strategies and tools to improve disaster recovery and reconstruction practices for disabled people. It is structured around the following seven major thematic areas related to disability inclusive recovery and reconstruction: physical environment; livelihood, employment and social protection; transportation and communication; education; health; capacity building of disabled people's organisations (DPOs); and organisational and operational issues. This toolkit is useful for humanitarian agencies and NGOs in disasters situations
Mental health in emergencies
These guidelines provide information to organisations and individuals on how to respond during humanitarian emergencies by highlighting eleven specific action sheets that offer practical guidance on mental health and psychosocial support. The guidelines include a matrix of interventions with guidance for emergency planning, actions to be taken in the early stages of an emergency, and comprehensive responses needed in the recovery and rehabilitation phases. This resource is gives humanitarian actors useful inter-agency, inter-sectoral guidance and tools for responding effectively in the midst of emergencies
This resource provides a summary of the guidelines for mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings. It details a general introduction, a matrix of minimum responses in the midst of emergencies, and eleven checklists for key actions of emergency response. The checklists cover the following areas: coordination; monitoring and evaluation; protection and human rights; community mobilization and support; health services; education; dissemination of information; food security and nutrition; shelter and site planning; water and sanitation. This resource is useful for humanitarian agencies and practitioners
A large number of people are exposed to extreme stressors that are a risk factor for mental health and social problems. This report describes principles and strategies that can be applied in resource poor settings where there are people who have been exposed to extreme stressors, such as refugees, internally displaced persons, disaster survivors and populations exposed to terrorism, genocide or war
Inclusive education in emergencies
This resource provides a framework and practical tools and is primarily aimed at field staff responsible for setting up and managing education projects during crisis. It may also be useful to those responsible for writing proposals, planning training, or leading the overall emergency response
The guide outlines useful principles for an inclusive emergency education approach, provides advice for strategies and actions at key stages of an emergency, offers advice on dealing with challenges, and highlights what support emergencies' education staff should expect from their organisations. It is aimed at anyone working to provide, manage or support education services in emergencies, and complements the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction
This paper seeks to introduce a discussion on access to quality inclusive education for children with disabilities in emergencies. The author argues that an inclusive approach in such situations will ensure equal rights for disabled children and improve the quality and inclusivity for all children in conflict areas
This guide offers practical ideas for including children and young people with disabilities in education during or after an emergency. It addresses current barriers to inclusive education. Specific sections cover curriculum content , tests and learning assessments. This guide will assist anyone working with teachers or facilitators in an emergency, whether as part of the formal education system or a non-governmental programme
Conflict is one of the major reasons for impairments in Africa. This article makes the connection between disabled people, conflicts, the national governments and the international community
This report reviews the contributions of international NGOs, NGOs, Disabled People Organisations and other stakeholders in the disability and ageing sector. Their responses to mainstreaming disability and/or ageing issues in humanitarian response in Pakistan are presented, and general recommendations are provided. This report would be useful to those who work with disabled and older people in disaster situations
This article focuses on the discussion statement that 'people with disabilities are forgotten in emergency situations.' Experience from other emergency relief work shows that people with disabilities are easily excluded from emergency relief systems and do not benefit from them. As a result, they need specific attention in order to benefit from relief work.
This research report, produced for the UK Department for International Development's disability knowledge and research programme (Disability KaR), investigates the extent to which disabled people are included in emergency programmes following the tsunami in Asia. It also assesses the impact of networking and the role of resources in post-tsunami contexts in Sri Lanka, with contributions from India and Indonesia.
The research methodology was based on a wide range of principles and approaches, and underpinned by a social model approach. Particular tools were developed by field workers. Principles from emancipatory research were used, such as ensuring that the research fully involved and promoted the rights of disabled persons, while remaining flexible and sensitive as required in emergency and conflict situations
This report presents the key findings and recommendations from a four-week field assessment conducted by the Women's refugee Commission in Spring 2013 in northern and eastern Lebanon. Key findings are shared about the situation of Syrian refugees with disabilities, and recommendations are provided to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and partners.
This paper explores the connection between disability and natural disasters. It also investigates the regional and global response to the Asian tsunami in 2004 and hurricane Katrina, in the USA, in 2005. It would be useful for anyone with an interest in the inclusion of disabled people, and disabled peoples organisations in disaster recovery and preparedness. It is particularly relevant to article eleven of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities concerning situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies
This report provides a comprehensive overview of the initial post-disaster efforts in relation to injury, rehabilitation and disability in the aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake of 12 January 2010. Recommendations are made for future actions to assist in the promotion of better management of people with disabilities during the long-term recovery of Haiti and in the care of people with disabilities in future crises elsewhere in the world
"In this article, the author looks at a Handicap International’s project towards people with disabilities in a civil war situation. Hundreds of thousands of Sierraleonean refugees amassed at the end of the nineties in refugee-camps in neighbouring Guinea. Many of them became victims of outrageous atrocities, notably the maiming of innocent civilians, men, women and children, by cutting off hands or lower-arms. Handicap International developed a double track approach which is elaborated in various domains (rehabilitation, health, education, vocational training, habitat, micro-credit, etc.) moving towards main-streaming disability in emergency response"
Zeitschrift Behinderung und Dritte Welt : Journal for Disability and International Development, No 1
Disabled people are likely to feel the negative impact of a crisis more than other citizens. Their ability to cope and survive may be completely dependent on others, and the capacity of any family to support its disabled members is keenly tested. Anecdotal evidence from acute emergencies suggests that disabled people suffer particularly high rates of mortality and morbidity. In addition to those who were disabled before the onset of the crisis, many more become disabled
The report analyses findings from a project that aimed to improve quality of life of persons with disabilities and promote a social change by increasing their inclusion in humanitarian efforts and developmental programmes. The objective of the project, and this accompanying report, is to increase understanding and capacity of mainstream and humanitarian agencies, government bodies, civil society, NGOs and local organisations of how to include persons with disabilities in emergency response, early recovery and rehabilitation and developmental programmes. The report will be of use to organisations that are mainstreaming disability within their own structures and supporting other organisations on these issues
"This document outlines action for all humanitarian actors to take (general) as well as for those active in the following sectors: protection, shelter, water and sanitation, food and nutrition, non-food items, health services, education and livelihoods"
"This article, based on the extensive experience of Handicap International in the field of emergency actions, describes why taking into account disability at an early stage of a crisis (or even better in a disaster preparedness phase) can prevent complications, diminish the number of disabled victims and so safe lives and livelihoods. It also gives some ideas to improve practice"
Zeitschrift Behinderung und Dritte Welt : Journal for Disability and International Development, No 1