Federation laments non-inclusion of vulnerable persons as actors in disaster risk reduction initiatives


The Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations (ZAFOD) has called for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction initiatives as stakeholders and contributing actors.

Paul Mbewe, ZAFOD Board Vice President, highlighted that disasters disproportionately place persons with disabilities and their families in vulnerable positions.

Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka on Tuesday, Mbewe stated the uneven capacity of persons with disabilities to recover from disasters, underscoring the need for resilience in disaster risk reduction and recovery efforts tailored for this group.

He pointed out that beyond the challenges associated with lower socio-economic status, systemic discrimination and inaccessible disaster preparedness plans often result in persons with disabilities being left behind in relief and response efforts.

“ZAFOD has observed that persons with disabilities or their representative organisations are often not included or consulted in disaster risk reduction-related policy-making or practice,” Mbewe said.

He emphasized the need for developing strategies aimed at institutionalising disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction.

Over the past 10 months, ZAFOD had undertaken a project to strengthen disaster recovery for persons with disabilities.

This initiative involved engaging various decision-makers and stakeholders in disaster risk emergency response and disaster risk reduction strategies to address the needs of persons with disabilities.

Read More:New study reveals discriminatory recruitment, rights protection systems for persons with disabilities

The project also aimed to stress the importance of mainstreaming disability in disaster risk reduction and promoting inclusive recovery strategies during disasters and emergencies, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Mbewe noted that the project revealed a lack of practical knowledge among staff for implementing inclusive disaster risk reduction.

Additionally, it was found that there was slow implementation of supportive policies related to disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction where they were present.

“Underpinning the concept of ‘leave no one behind,’ our desire is to meaningfully participate in national development on an equal basis with others, including in disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness,” he stated.

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