Coastal DPO Alliance, a DRF Grantee, located in a South-eastern Bangladesh facilitates the
formation of self help groups of persons with disabilities to learn about their rights.
Coastal DPO Alliance’s work to build the capacity of Disabled Persons’ Organization’s in Bangladesh coastal areas in order to increase community awareness and government action on climate change and the increased vulnerability faced by persons with disabilities.
Bangladesh is recognized as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate risk. Global warming and sea level rise; hazards such as cyclones, flooding, land erosion, water logging, and salinity intrusion in soil and water are already affecting livelihoods dependent upon subsistence agriculture and small-scale fisheries.
The coastal belt of Bangladesh, where DRF grantee Coastal DPO Alliance (CDA) works is
particularly prone to flooding and cyclones. CDA mobilizes persons with disabilities in the rural and remote areas to ensure that they are included in disaster preparedness planning.
Utpal Barua, CDA’s Project Manager, describes the situation in this rural area,
“The village of Anowara and other villages where we work are located on the Bay of Bengal, where the risk of floods and river erosion is high due to climate change. Persons with disabilities are especially vulnerable because they are often the poorest of the poor and are illiterate. They are often hit hardest because of their badly constructed housing, the disruption to their family’s livelihoods, unfriendly transportation and communication systems, and lack of accessible cyclone shelters.”
Many persons with mobility issues may be unable to run or walk to a shelter. Early warning systems may not be audible or visible to persons with sensory disabilities. Once in a shelter, the facilities may be inaccessible for daily survival. Women with disabilities are particularly at risk of being abused.In addition, the lack of accurate information about persons with disabilities — their numbers and the environmental barriers they face — poses a challenge to inclusive disaster planning and relief. With a grant from the Disability Rights Fund, CDA is raising awareness among persons with disabilities and the community to create strategies for disabled persons organizations (DPOs) to link disability rights to climate change impacts.
Village DPO groups are identifying persons with disabilities, many of whom are shut-in and isolated in remote areas. CDA is supporting these groups to advocate to the local authorities for their inclusion in disaster management. They are also producing accessible guidance materials in the local languages and creating community drama on the rights of persons with disabilities. They hope that all these efforts will break down the stigma and discrimination faced by persons with disabilities and lead to equal treatment and respect.
Recommendations for and Inclusive Approach to Disaster Adaptation and Relief*
1. Target persons with disabilities in disaster relief; agree to a minimum standard for disability
inclusive relief; provide training to relief workers and include disability audits in all
2. Strengthen national information systems and use participatory vulnerability and capacity
assessments to collate information on persons with disabilities and to identify existing risks.
3. Strengthen the capacity and resources of DPOs and actively involve them in all stages of
4. Design and implement accessible and inclusive warning systems, information, and physical
5. Raise awareness of disability issues within communities and identify local champions. Target
families and community networks.
6. Advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities at all levels.
It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward. – Harvey Flerstein