The India Declaration
In recent times it has been increasingly recognized that persons with disability suffer disproportionately during disasters. In disasters such as the Tsunami, Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan and India, it has been documented that disasters not only create impairment, but those who already have a disability before a crisis may become further marginalized and excluded because of their disability. The cycle of poverty and isolation, which persons with disabilities usually find themselves in, is increased during these situations.
The Conference participants on the whole agreed that there was existing experience to draw on and we need to move forward. The first important issue is to move from this understanding to action. The missing links which exist if acted upon could assist in moving rapidly towards the goal of inclusion are:
Meaningful Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Disaster Management: One of the challenges is to ensure that the persons with disabilities are included in disaster management plans and programmes. It cannot be assumed that they be automatically included in when they are usually excluded in normal times. Their exclusion makes them invisible and uninformed about their rights. This can be accomplished through a twin track approach. One by building the capacity of persons with disabilities to be able to participate on equal terms. The second is to ensure that they are consulted at each step. This can be achieved by mobilizing and strengthening their capacity, and that of their families and DPOs in disaster prone countries on the social model of inclusion . It also depends on building a disability component into all funding meant for Disasters.
Building Networks of Alliances: It is important that networking between disaster and disability organizations takes place to enable them to build solidarity with each other. This alliance building should be extended to other vulnerable groups (based on age, gender, race and caste) as the provisions for persons with disabilities would be useful to them also.