When Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources, Karine Elharrar, was reportedly unable to attend COP26 because the venue was inaccessible, Mark Carew, Principal Researcher for Leonard Cheshire, immediately drew parallels between what happened and “the life-threatening issue disabled people now face because of climate change”.
“Accessibility is an afterthought, not a default,” he wrote in a blog post for Leonard Cheshire. “The world needs to ensure it is keeping the most marginalised frontline communities safe from disasters – and this starts with inclusive disaster communication. The world won’t wait.”
In that blog Mr Carew also outlines the findings of Leonard Cheshire’s new, Elrha-funded research into making disaster messaging more inclusive. The report focuses on disaster messaging in Bangladesh.
In the last 50 years, the World Meteorological Organization estimates that a weather, climate or water-related disaster has occurred somewhere in the world every day on average. Each event has caused an average of 115 deaths and USD 202 million worth of damage.
This holds worrying implications for countries like Bangladesh, which are uniquely vulnerable to flooding and sea level rises.
Most emergency messaging fails to be disability and age inclusive because it doesn’t feature on channels these populations use. This leaves large sections of communities uninformed and vulnerable.
Leonard Cheshire’s research from Bangladesh highlights why disaster messaging must become more inclusive to prevent disabled people missing vital, life-saving information.
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