To improve disaster outcomes for people with disabilities in Africa, disaggregate data – world


According to the World Health Organization, around 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability. Official statistics from the government of the Africa region indicate that the percentage of people with disabilities is only 2-5%, but in some countries it is probably closer to 20-22%, due to the prevalence of conflict, forced displacement and lack of access to adequate medical services. Data is essential for understanding the challenges and identifying solutions to support people with disabilities, but it is lacking in many contexts where it is needed most.

People with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to disasters. They accounted for 70% of Hurricane Katrina deaths in New Orleans, United States, in 2005, and double the death toll from the 2011 Japan earthquake as the rest of the population. Due to the lack of comparative information available, the extent of these challenges in many African countries is unclear. It is not known how many people with disabilities were affected by the 2020 floods across Niger, or by Cyclone Idai in 2019 in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – or if the deaths, physical injuries and / or trauma The resulting emotional feelings could have been mitigated with better risk information.

Data disaggregated by disability is crucial for disaster risk management

According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, only 20% of people with disabilities surveyed globally said they could evacuate immediately without difficulty in an emergency. By identifying where people live, the barriers they face and their needs, data can be used to support people with disabilities before, during and after a disaster. The 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted by 187 countries, emphasizes the need for disaggregated data by disability that is accessible, up-to-date and used to inform decision-making. In addition, the World Bank has endorsed the Washington Group Disability Questions (WG-SS) as a global standard and best practice for the collection and use of disability-informed data.

Local leaders in New Orleans have created a database to better support people with disabilities, which residents can use to share their location, contact details and needs. This information has been used in recent years to target accessible early warning messages, evacuation assistance and delivery of essential medical supplies. The recent Inclusive Resilience report notes that some government authorities in South Asia are increasingly recognizing the benefits of creating social registers, which link personal information to social protection mechanisms and geographic databases on the distribution of risk. and exhibitions. In other contexts, it is humanitarian agencies that work alongside community members to map needs in their area and use the information to identify priorities for first responders, inform emergency shelter preparedness and support emergency workers. relief efforts.

These data are particularly needed in Africa

Most of the exposure and vulnerability data disaggregated by disability comes from the South Asia, East Asia and Pacific regions. Although these regions are among the most exposed to natural hazards, the World Risk Report 2020 shows that social vulnerability is much higher in Africa, resulting in a higher overall risk score for many African countries. These measures of social vulnerability are based on levels of sensitivity, adaptation and adaptation.

Many factors make it difficult to collect this data in Africa. Resources are often limited due to competing priorities and / or capacity issues, definitions regarding disability may vary, and in many places policy commitments that integrate disability have yet to be translated into targeted approaches or advocacy efforts. implemented.

The importance of the process

There are often stigmas or social pressures that discourage community members from sharing information when a household member has a disability, such as the implications for a family’s social status. WG-SS addresses these challenges by focusing on access or functional need while avoiding the use of specific labels that reinforce stigma. These questions have been incorporated into some African national census surveys, including the 2019 census in Kenya. The World Bank has developed developed resources to guide the use of these questions, including an upcoming self-paced online course on Disability-Considered Data Collection and Analysis. It is also important that local interviewers receive adequate training on the methodology to ensure data quality.

When collecting this data, it is essential to understand data privacy standards and concerns. There is evidence of the harm it can cause when locally sensitive credentials fall into the wrong hands. Community members may not believe their information will be protected or want to engage if past efforts have not led to significant change. Working with trusted local leaders, organizations of people with disabilities (DPOs) and community members to determine the approach, use of the data and who will have access to it, can help build trust and buy-in to the data. process.

Many teams are already supporting the collection of disaggregated data on disability in several ways, and it is important that the World Bank’s Global Practice for Urbanism, Resilience and the Land, which spearheads strengthening resilience, joins these efforts. This will help our government counterparts to meet their commitments to the Sendai Framework and will highlight the importance of disability-informed disaster risk management in Africa.

* This research was supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). To learn more, visit our website. *

Additional Resources:

Inclusion of disability in disaster risk management

Disaster recovery including disability

Making data and statistics more inclusive in developing countries

Measuring disability in household surveys

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