World Vision Timor-Leste
article • Monday, April 8th 2019

A voice for the vulnerable in disasters

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Adelina represents people with a disability in her village’s Disaster Management Committee. Photo: Zito Afranio/World Vision
 
Adelina’s village is at high risk of disasters, including landslides and strong winds. The 35 year old from Bobonaro Municipality is even more vulnerable to these disasters, as she has a disability. 
 
But Adelina is strongly motivated to help her community when disaster strikes. Last year, she was selected as a representative of people with a disability in her village’s Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
 
With support from World Vision’s Disaster READY project, Adelina and the 15 other committee members help to facilitate disaster risk assessments and community action plans, and share information about disaster prevention and response with their community.
 
“I want to be involved in the SDMC structure because I want to help my community increase their knowledge and understanding on disasters and risks, especially for people with disabilities because when disasters happen we are more likely to become victims of the disaster than people with no disabilities,” said Adelina.
 
Through the project, Adelina and the other SDMC members received training to ensure people with a disability, women and children are included in disaster risk assessments, conducting community action plans, and preparing, preventing and responding to disasters.
 
“I learnt and understood well the objective of this training. This can help people with disabilities to know how to keep ourselves safe for any disasters that might happen in the future. I know that people with disabilities are really vulnerable to any disasters that might happen, because we cannot make fast movements compared to people with no disabilities,” said Adelina.
 
Communities ready to respond to disasters
 
During a disaster risk assessment in one sub-village, Adelina and other community members first identified the disasters that had occurred in the past. Adelina then led the mapping group to develop hazard, risk and vulnerability maps. Community members learnt how their attitudes contribute to disaster risks, and their capacity to cope with disasters. 
 
Adelina (left) led the mapping group to identify hazards, risks and vulnerabilities with community members. Photo: Zito Afranio/World Vision
 
Adelina raised safety issues for people with a disability during disasters, and ropes were laid along paths leading from houses to help people with a disability evacuate during an emergency. Adelina also recommended that their village office improve access for people who cannot walk, and suggested meeting venues where people with a disability can participate.
 
The Disaster READY Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. World Vision is an implementing partner in consortium with CARE International, Oxfam and Plan International. 
 
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