India becomes the first country to release National Guidelines on Disability Inclusive DRR

- Prof. Asha Hans, Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre, Odisha*

At its 15th Formation Day on September 27, 2019,  the National Disaster Management Authority released the National Guidelines on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction in an important move towards inclusion and ‘leaving no one behind’. With this, India became the first country in the world to come out with such guidelines. This major step is a part of the Government of India's policy to address concerns of its 2.68 crores persons with disabilities. These Guidelines were released by the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri G. Kishan Reddy. Together with the Guidelines, a series of awareness generation videos with tips on how to survive a disaster with Indian Sign Language was also made available to the public.

These Guidelines were drawn up after extensive consultations with various stakeholders, especially persons with disabilities and associated organizations, Government Ministries and National Institutes working on disabilities. The draft guidelines were also put up on the NDMA website and comments were sought from the general public.

These Guidelines are in line with the new paradigm shift of Disaster Risk Reduction and adoption of appropriate inclusive approaches and strategies to “Build Back Better”.  It is founded on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 to which India is a signatory. SFDRR also emphasises the importance of inclusion and accessibility and recognizes the need for involvement of persons with disabilities and their organizations in the formulation and implementation of DRR policies.

Organisations working on DRR need a better understanding of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities. Such organisations will find these Guidelines useful as these provide a contextual understanding which can improve standards for inclusion. New communication technologies are being increasingly used in DRR and these have the potential to assist persons with disabilities during disasters.

The most important part of these Guidelines is Chapter IV which provides for specific strategies before, during and after Disasters for implementation by the Centre, State Governments up to village level, and other disability and disaster stakeholders.
These Guidelines provide examples of good practice that could be adapted, replicated or scaled up successfully in India. It makes persons with disabilities a part of the solution in disability inclusion in DRR and foster an inclusive India.

* Prof. Hans has played an important role in the finalisation and writing of National Guidelines on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction.

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