REPORT: World Disasters Report 2007: Focus on Discrimination
The World Disasters Report (2007) examines what happens to various vulnerable groups during disaster situations, particularly women, elderly people, minorities, and people with disabilities. This report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies includes many stories of how discrimination and exclusion has made it harder for some people to survive or meet their needs during and after disaster situations. It also includes guidance and recommendations on how agencies, governments, and communities can improve efforts to ensure that emergency aid reaches the most vulnerable people. Discrimination can occur on the basis of ethnic or social origin, language, religion, gender, age, physical or mental disability, and sexual orientation.
The World Disasters Report points out that, although discrimination exists before disaster, an emergency can exacerbate it. However, that discrimination is often invisible because official data on older people, ethnic minorities or people with disabilities may not exist. Furthermore, aid agencies often do not even analyze the needs of vulnerable people when they carry out emergency assessments. And vulnerable groups are usually not included in the disaster planning process before, during, or after emergencies. This accummulative discrimination can be life-threatening during a crisis. Even after the crisis, people who have suffered discrimination may take longer to recover or to regain their livelihoods.
The World Disasters Report calls for agencies to do better in planning for the needs of vulnerable populations, saying bluntly, “One-size-fits-all relief planning is unhelpful in overcoming discrimination” (p. 15).
We Can Do readers will clearly have a particular interest in the chapter that focuses on the needs of people with disabilities during disasters. Information for this chapter was gathered from both industrialized and developing countries. Stories of discrimination are presented, including stories of how emergency shelters and emergency relief agencies have sometimes contributed to the problem. But you can also find stories highlighting the valuable contributions people with disabilities could make for everyone when they are included in disaster planning efforts. This chapter provides an overview of the barriers that can make it harder for people with disabilities to survive disasters or recover their lives afterwards. And it reviews how agencies and others can remove these barriers.
However, even people who wish to focus primarily on the needs of disabled people may still wish to read the full report. In particular, some of the needs of elderly people are similar to some of the needs of people with disabilities. Also, all the issues covered in this report are cross-cutting issues: any population of disabled people will clearly have people among them who are elderly, or women, or children, or gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, or ethnic minorities, or other minorities. Disabled people who also belong to some other minority group may experience dual or triple discrimination that can create additional barriers during crisis situations.
Read chapter summaries, download individual chapters for free, or order print copies of the report at:
The full report can be downloaded in PDF format (4 Mb) at:
We Can Do learned about the World Disasters Report through the Disabled People’s International newsletter. Further information was gathered from the report itself.
This article has been cross-posted, with some modifications, at the RatifyNow web site with permission of author.
Subscribe to We Can Do
Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).
Other Resources at We Can Do
Catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.
We Can Do Copyright
This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts in full: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.