“Tangguh, tangguh, tangguh!” shouted Silma Desi to greet visitors at the ASB innovation platform booth at Geneva International Conference Centre, Switzerland. Tangguh is an Indonesian word means ‘resilient’, which is often used by Silma as a vigorous expression towards disaster. One of her VIP visitors at the booth was Dr Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance of the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To Dr Kofler, Silma explained her experiences as a disaster risk reduction trainer.
Silma was in Geneva to attend the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) on 13 – 17 May 2019. Together with her, ASB Indonesia and the Philippines also facilitated the involvement of Serafina Bete, Head of Christian Association of Persons with Disabilities (Persani) East Nusa Tenggara, in the GPDRR. Silma herself is the (non-active) Head of the Indonesian Association of Women with Disabilities (HWDI) in West Sumatra. Both of them participated in the 2019 GPDRR to uphold the voices of persons with disabilities to be considered and heard in disaster risk reduction efforts.
The conference was organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by the Government of Switzerland. The 2019 GPDRR had gathered more than 4.000 attendees, including the high-level political leaders from around 170 countries across the globe. There were more than 150 paralleled events organised during the 5-days conference where progress, trends, challenges and plans to strengthen resilience to disasters were turned into fruitful discussions.
Facilitating direct representation of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), like Silma and Serafina, is one of ASB’s key approaches to ensure inclusion is taken into account in the consultation forums, to identify the gaps in the implementations, and to further design the way forward. Silma and Serafina not only got to engage with broader disaster risk reduction actors, but they also brought hands-on experience in contributing to disaster risk reduction as persons with disabilities who are often looked upon solely as a vulnerable group.
Mr Carlos Kaiser from ONG Inclusiva (right) presenting a topic on inclusive disaster risk reduction titled “Dhaka Declaration on Disability and Disaster Risk Management and its impact in America” at a Side Event
As the co-founder of the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DiDRRN), ASB collaborated with various stakeholders to advance disability inclusion as a pressing issue to be discussed throughout the conference. Collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh in organising a side event during the conference was one of the highlights. At the event, eight panellists who came from various backgrounds, including government officials, academia, NGO and DPOs, irradiated the accountability of disaster risk reduction actors towards disability inclusion as mandated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). More than 60 participants involved in a productive discussion during the event. The discussion was opened by Mr Norbert Bartlhe, the Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and chaired by Dr Enamur Rahman MP, Honorable State Minister of Disaster Management and Relief, Government of Bangladesh.
ASB also collaborated with wider parties in the Stakeholder Group for Persons with Disabilities – Thematic Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (SGPWD-TGDRR). Through a pre-conference event, ASB involved in productive conversation with the group to identify progress, gaps, and opportunities to contribute in realising inclusive disaster risk reduction. The meeting was organised to take stock of the progress and challenges in ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction globally. The discussion also focused on the drafting of a stakeholder statement document which underlined the urgency of inclusive disaster risk reduction and readiness of the stakeholders to build close collaboration with DPOs.
Considering its long-standing engagement with disability-inclusive DRR and involvement in implementing inclusive disaster risk reduction programmes, ASB was also invited by the UNDRR, to represent the SGPWD-TGDRR and give input to the preparation of the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR). The event will be hosted by the Government of Australia next year. During the meeting, ASB reiterated the need to consult and meaningfully involve persons with disabilities during the preparation and delivery of the APMCDRR.
Inclusive disaster risk reduction has also been applied by members of the DiDRRN in ten other countries across the Asia Pacific Region. To that extent, ASB as the current leader of the DiDRRN consortium got a chance to deliver a presentation of voluntary commitment made by the DiDRRN members to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework. The presentation was delivered at the Special Session to Launch the First Synthesis and Analysis Report of the Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments. The voluntary commitment, titled ‘Leadership of persons with disabilities in DRR and humanitarian actors,’ not only aptly summarised the commitment made by the members but also reflects the work of DiDRRN members to ensure that the ‘all-of-society’ commitment in the Sendai Framework is delivered within the DiDRRN consortium programme. More about DiDRRN voluntary commitment can be read here .
Scaling up the inclusive implementation of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian works is an extensive effort, but the 2019 GPDRR was momentum for broader promotion of inclusion. Together with partners, especially DPOs, ASB will continue creating opportunities for persons with disabilities to contribute and take the lead in strengthening community resilience to disasters. As Silma said, persons with disabilities are tangguh! (Rizma Kristiana, edit: Taarna Grimsley)