Sunday, October 13, 2013
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today called for the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country’s disaster risk reduction programs.
In a privilege speech, Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that, “We must continue to know more about the needs of persons living with disabilities. We must know more about their challenges and about their abilities to cope and to take part in disaster risk reduction efforts.”
The Senator said that the 2013 International Day for Disaster Reduction, which was celebrated on October 13, highlighted the importance of involving PWDs in efforts to reduce risk and build resilient communities.
As part of the celebration, the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) conducted a survey among persons with disabilities. The survey revealed that 86% of PWDs have never participated in disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning; 73% do not have any personal disaster protection plan; while only 27.5% feel that their needs are addressed in local and community DRR plans.
Legarda, the UNISDR Champion for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction for Asia-Pacific, said that with the unabated rise in disaster losses, about 18-fold increase in economic losses since the 1970s, all sectors of society must come together now and respond as one against disaster risk.
“Congress has done its crucial work: New laws on disaster risk reduction and climate change. Yet much remains to be done to realize the benefits these laws ought to bring, especially to the poor and the vulnerable who are most in need of help and protection against disasters and most deserving of participation in resilience building. The persons with disabilities are among them,” said Legarda.
“We must engage the persons with disabilities in reducing disaster risk. Although they are more likely to lose their lives or be injured than any other person, their disability does not mean inability. We must engage them in assessing vulnerabilities, and in establishing effective early warning systems in the communities, together with civil society groups concerned,” she added.
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