There is a number of disability specialised organisations working in humanitarian actions alongside mainstream agencies and Disabled People's Organisations. They may provide direct support and services to persons with disabilities during emergency response, or work with mainstream organisations to ensure inclusion.
Injuries, trauma and rehabilitation
In many large-scale emergencies, treatment of injuries and trauma (including psychological trauma and distress), and the often necessary rehabilitation, are usually organised as a sub-cluster under the Health Cluster. International organisations such as Handicap International, CBM, HelpAge, Light for the World, Sightsavers or the ICRC, among others, as well as locally established NGOs often provide technical support or direct service delivery in collaboration with grassroots partners in this field.
Ageing and Disability Task Force
In some recent emergencies, Ageing and Disability Task Forces were set-up, usually under the Protection Cluster. Such task forces are established to support persons with disabilities and other at risk groups such as older people, or those sustaining injuries, to get access to general and specific information about emergency relief. This could include referral to health and rehabilitation services, assistive devices or other disability-specific services. These task forces are usually also involved in advocating for disability-inclusion and are helpful to provide information about the situation of persons with disabilities to clusters and mainstream services.
Disability specialised organisations
A number of international NGOs with specific expertise in disability and emergencies are often responding directly or in-directly, with local partners, to large emergencies. They have developed through the years a large expertise on the issue, and will be able to provide other organisations advice to understand concepts (such as disability and inclusion, or the twin track approach) and to implement concrete solutions to certain situations.They can also be contacted for support to develop solutions on accessibility and inclusive response, often provide, or know where to refer people to specific services such as assistive devices, health and rehabilitation, counselling, transportation etc.
Disabled People's Organisations
In many countries persons with disabilities are often organised into Disabled People's Organisations or sometimes Self-Help-Groups (often mentioned with the acronym DPO), who should be contacted and consulted in how to best support persons with disabilities : "nothing about us, without us" was the slogan used in disability activism since the 90's.
DPO might exist as a national platform but often also has members at local level. Include representative of these organisations in cluster meetings but note that they might initially need to be facilitated to join the meetings, such as with transportation, interpretation in/to English / local language, sign language interpretation but also be encouraged to share information, as they might not be used to emergency contexts and humanitarian jargon.
Women with disabilities, being particularly at risk during emergencies and disasters, are also starting to organise in networks or alongside women organisations. In most of the countries of the world, women with disabilities remain at the intersection of gender inequality and disability stigma, and thus often find themselves specifically marginalised and at risk. Working with their networks, or organisations, can bring a valuable support to decision-making actions. By participating to planning process, assessment, implementation and services delivery, their needs and voices will be better take into consideration and will also build their capacity and empowerment.
How to contact them?
Contact the organisations beforehand at their headquarters, or if in the field, they might be registered with the relevant national authority or even with UN Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) leading the emergency response.
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