Inclusive mock drill in Bangladesh Photo: CBM/CDD

Learn about disabilities and why they are important in disaster risk reduction, and discover a wealth of resources, portals, case studies, videos and contacts related to inclusion and disabilities.


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Disability in its website as "an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations."

The WHO adds to the definition that "Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between the features of a person's body and features of the society in which he or she lives."

Types of disabilities

The organisation 'House with no Steps' distinguishes in its website between the "many different disabilities which affect individual people in different ways: physical, intellectual, sensory or mental health disability:

  • A physical disability may affect, either temporarily or permanently, a person's physical capacity and/or mobility.
  • A person may have an intellectual disability if they experience difficulty communicating, learning and retaining information.
  • A sensory disability affects one or more senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste or spatial awareness.
  • A mental illness affects a person's thinking, emotional state and behaviours."
Why is disability inclusion in DRR important?

According to a 2010 WHO report, "over a billion people, 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability. Between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning."

Vulnerability is another aspect of the important of disability inclusion. The Disability Inclusive DRR Network says that "In crisis, people with disabilities are considered as one of the most vulnerable groups. In order to evacuate safely, they often need assistance from their family members, local disaster response committee or rescue team. In this situation, not only people with disabilities are affected but also people who assist the people with disabilities. If including such caretakers into the overall percentage figure, people who are affected by disability can be estimated to represent at least 25% of the world’s population.

This rough estimate shows the importance of disability inclusive CBDRM. If the issues concerning disability are effectively included in CBDRM with the active and effective participation/contribution of people with disabilities themselves as well as caretakers, inclusive resilience of the whole community will be the result."

Resources selected for you

Links to existing portals/key websites

Case studies

GNDR Action at the Frontline case study from Kiribati

Kiribati is an atoll nation in the Pacific, prone to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and inundation. The most vulnerable individuals in Kiribati are people with disabilities, who are during times of emergency often the most heavily affected group. A local NGO, Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific Kiribati (FSPK), through the Action at the Frontline program, has given Tetoamatoa, a group of people with disabilities, the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and capabilities to better safeguard themselves and the environment in the face of a changing climate. A platform was set up which allowed them to present their daily reality through drama awareness on DRR/CCA. This platform not only changed the way people with disabilities were thinking about themselves, it also changed the perception of the general public about people with disabilities and it led to a more active engagement of people with disabilities in risk reduction activities in Kiribati. [Read the case study here]

Peñaflor town inclusive safe community: pdfCase study about building resilience for all

This case study shares many of the lessons learnt from the Risk Award 2014 Winner project, developed and implemented by ONG Inclusiva in Chile. The project premise is that human functioning is negatively affected by barriers. In the case of people with disabilities, they are more vulnerable to disasters because of architectonic, cultural and technological barriers. To reduce the risk of suffering the impacts of disasters for people with disabilities (and for the communities), all these barriers need to be eliminated and/or reduced, and every procedure must be inclusive, thus making Peñaflor a town resilient for all. The case study describes the kinds of barriers faced and the counter measures taken by the project, in particular: language barriers for the deaf and blind people; knowledge barriers for all of our community; physical barriers, such as urban-architectonic barriers. Training in sign language, ramps, family inclusive emergency plans, inclusive emergency kits: photos illustrate many of these barriers and how they were eliminated in Peñaflor. The main lessons learnt were: i) To achieve any degree of Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, environmental barriers must be eliminated and/or adapted and facilitators must be implemented; ii) The community has to be part of the process; and iii) Education and training about making Inclusive Emergency Family Plans is vital. [ pdfDownload the case study here1.84 MB]

Children with disabilities and disaster preparedness: a case study of Christchurch, New Zealand

An estimated 7 million children with disabilities worldwide are affected by disasters annually. This significant number emphasises the particular vulnerability of these children when facing natural hazards. However, their needs as well as their capacity and role in disaster risk reduction have largely been overlooked by researchers and policymakers. Below you can download a paper article about a case study from Christchurch, New Zealand, that identifies the insights, realities, possibilities and obstacles in relation to the involvement in disaster preparedness of children with diverse disabilities. The study shows the differences in how children with disabilities access available resources and perceive, face and cope with natural hazards. It also shows their potential contribution to disaster preparedness and provides suggestions for policy and practice. [Download here the case study paper from the Taylor & Francis Online website]

Inclusiveness in high intensity earthquake-tsunami evacuations: a case study of a joint Chile-Japan drill

Architectonical barriers halve the chances of survival of people with disabilities and assistants. This fact is part of a case study that offers many other valuable lessons from a joint bi-national drill where GNDR member ONG Inclusiva was tasked to observe and assess the level of inclusion of people with disabilities during evacuation efforts. [ pdfDownload here the case study2.21 MB]



  • Latin America: Carlos Kaiser Mansilla, Director Ejecutivo, ONG Inclusiva: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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