About EMPOWER Project


Empowering Persons with Disabilities Through Effective Disaster Management


Disasters vary in types, causes, and consequences, they may result from natural causes.During the last decades, natural disasters caused by different factors pose a serious threat to life, property, and infrastructure in ways of material damage, economic losses, causalities and emotional well-being of humans in many parts of Europe.The key in mitigating the disaster’s impact is to reduce people’s vulnerability who are at risk of death, injury and psychological distress.

The natural disasters have disproportionate effects on people with disabilities like blind, deaf, persons with reduced mobility and their caregivers.Specific reports from 2004 to 2014 showed that persons with disabilities suffered from natural disasters 2-4 times more than non-disabled people (Report on 2011 disaster of Japan). The reason underlying this disproportionate impact is that institutions or authorities are prone to focus on these people’s vulnerability, portray them as helpless and overlook their knowledge, skills for dealing with disasters. This kind of misconceptions is likely to cause ostracizing of persons with disabilities as well as their caregivers will continue and there is an urgent need to diminish the vulnerability.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in its articles 11 and 322, requires that persons with disabilities and their families benefit from and participate in disaster relief, emergency response and disaster risk reduction strategies. Underlining the legal obligations enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly with regard to Article 11 requesting the States Parties including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to take all the necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters.Aligned with UNCRPD, European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: a renewed commitment to a barrier-free Europe which is aimed at raising awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities, including accessibility, in the area of emergency and humanitarian aid, as well as promoting the rights of people with disabilities and their families in the external action of the EU and the Member States. Also with the drafted resolution on EU Disability Strategy post 2020, priorities to be effective in fostering meaningful inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities and their caregivers has been set.According to the council, it becomes more crucial that the need to apply the principle of non-discrimination for the disaster management cycle (prevention, response and recovery); cooperation in disability-inclusive disaster management planning including all interested parties; provide knowledge and raise awareness of PwDs and their caregivers about disaster management; strengthening the resilience to disasters and the self-reliance of PwDs and caregivers.

Nonetheless, the results from “Living with Disability and Disasters” global survey conducted by (UNISDR) in 2014 and scattered evidence reveal that PwDs still have no significant representation in building resilience to disasters and only a small percentage of respondents are aware of disaster management programmes in Europe and majority express desire to be included in these programmes. Thereupon, training and awareness raising of PwDs, caregivers and other interested parties is once more a repeatedly cited priority since it is important to actively engage PwDs and their caregivers in disaster management cycles. As it is inferred, there is a gap of inequalities and current systems at national, regional and global levels are failing to ensure the participation, inclusion of PwDs and their families in disaster management and mainstream the disability into disaster management.

The objectives of this project are empowering people with disabilities through effective disaster management; raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their caregivers about the increasing risks of disasters; making PwDs and caregivers better prepared for natural disasters through training contents and accessible learning materials on the accessible learning hub; empowering the caregivers in the disaster management cycle; increasing the knowledge and awareness of authorities and policy makers responsible for disability and disasters volunteers about disability and disasters in civil protection and professionals working with PwDs; building a culture of disability and disaster preparedness in community-at-large; mainstreaming disability into disaster management cycle.