International Day for Disaster Reduction

This year, the focus is on the people around the world who live with some form of disability.

  • People with disabilities are disproportionately affected in emergencies.
  • People with disabilities experience high rates of mortality in emergencies.
  • People with disabilities may have difficulty accessing assistance.
  • Emergencies increase vulnerability. 
  • Emergencies can create a new generation of people with disabilities.

In an emergency, people may suffer injuries, receive poor basic surgical and medical care, face emergency-induced mental health and psychological problems, and have to deal with a breakdown in support structures. They may also have difficulty accessing emergency assistance such as food, water, shelter, latrines and healthcare services.

This means identifying people and groups who may be more vulnerable in an emergency or a disaster. This group includes older people, people with disabilities and the socially isolated.

Read some examples of the Red Cross Red Crescent work around the world that helps to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities are prepared and included in emergency planning.

American Red Cross

American Red Cross has a robust partnership in preparedness and disaster planning with disability organizations, ensuring not only that preparedness materials are developed in concert with the community and that are disseminated, but also that people with disabilities are included in emergency planning. This is particularly helpful to the American Red Cross in its auxiliary role.

Together with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies active in disaster response, the American Red Cross and non-governmental partner organizations plan for full inclusion of people with disabilities in evacuation, notification, needs assessment, response and recovery – at all levels from local to state to federal level. In particular, the American Red Cross worked with the disability community on the revision of the shelter intake and assessment tool in 2010.

Australian Red Cross

The emergency RediPlan project provides people with general information to help them prepare for an emergency. The Australian Red Cross has developed guidelines on household preparedness for people with a disability, as well as for their families and carers.

Through its Disability Action Plan 2012–2015, the Australian Red Cross outlines its commitment to ensuring the organization is accessible to people of all abilities. The Australian Red Cross strives for accessiblility in:

  • its services and programmes and workplace culture
  • the skills and competencies of staff, members and volunteers
  • its premises and facilities
  • its governance and accountability structures
  • its communication, fundraising and marketing activities

Fiji Red Cross Society

For the welfare component, the key focus areas are providing education, advocacy and support for people from vulnerable communities who have physical and intellectual disabilities, are terminally ill,  or are elderly and alone. This free service helps to build the capacity of home-based carers by teaching them how to care for their loved ones’ special needs and for the elderly who live on their own. It also mobilizes neighbours and friends to take turns in caring for them.

In cases where the needs of the community are best served by a non-government or state-based service, the trained branch volunteers conduct referrals and make every effort to physically connect the two parties.

New Zealand Red Cross

The New Zealand Red Cross launched a disability support grant to assist people with disabilities and their carers, who are having difficulties meeting disability-related needs because of the effect of the earthquakes on services and infrastructure. The grant provided 750 New Zealand dollars per household.

Vietnam Red Cross Society

With the support of Spanish Red Cross, the Vietnam Red Cross Society is implementing a project to support the socio-economic integration and employment for people with disabilities. The overall objective of the project is to help to reduce the vulnerability of people with disabilities. The project was initially implemented in the provinces of Hung Yen and Lam Dong. In April 2012, the project was rolled out to four new provinces, and was widened within the two pilot provinces.

Colombia: First aid for deaf children

Special Olympics

"The IFRC is our vehicle to awaken the world of development to the needs and potential of people with disabilities."

Read more about the partnership with Special Olympics International.

The road to resilience

A series of comic-based leaflets from South-East Asia about disaster preparedness.