WMO joins with the global community in marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction 13 October, which this year focuses on living with disability and disaster. An estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.
The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said its new global survey showed why persons living with disabilities die, or are injured, in disproportionate numbers in disasters.
“Whether in multi-hazard prone United States of America or Bangladesh, earthquake-prone Italy or flood-prone Thailand, people living with disabilities across the world say they are rarely consulted about their needs and only 20% could evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster event, the remainder could only do so with a degree of difficulty and 6% would not be able to do so at all,” said UNISDR.
If given sufficient time, the percentage of those who could evacuate with no difficulty rises from 20% to 38% but 58% feel they would still have either some, or a lot of, difficulty while 4% would still not be able to evacuate, according to the survey.
Over the last 30 years natural disasters took the lives of over 2 million people. Almost 90 percent of such disasters, more than 70 percent of the casualties and almost 80 percent of the economic losses were caused by weather-, climate- or water-related hazards such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, heat waves, droughts and floods.
Disaster risk reduction is therefore one of the top priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services to provide accurate, user-driven climate services around the world.
National Meteorological and Hydrological Services play a vital role in protecting life and property through weather forecasts and early warnings. Improvements in early warning systems and preparedness have allowed significant reductions in casualties.
Advances in mobile technology are helping to strengthen early warning systems, giving people – including those living with disabilities – vital additional time to evacuate or take precautions in the event of a disaster. The meteorological, disaster risk reduction and information technology communities will continue to cooperate in future to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.