Within 48 hours of 2011 disaster in Japan, International Medical Corps had teams on the ground, working hand in hand with local agencies to fill essential gaps and reduce suffering. Today, International Medical Corps and Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) seek to build the capacity of communities and agencies to improve preparations for rescue, relief, and recovery efforts that reflect the needs of the entire population, including those persons with disabilities (PWDs).
In Japan's 2011 earthquake, the mortality rate of PWDs was more than double than that for the average population. PWDs are especially vulnerable to disasters not only because of their particular needs, but also obstacles in their physical environment; lack of access to information; and society's overall attitude. As Japan reflects on lessons learned, communities are at a critical juncture to ensure that preparation and planning engage and incorporate the concerns and well-being of all people.
International Medical Corps and AAR Japan will build the capacity of communities to improve preparations for disaster response that reflect the needs of the entire population, especially PWDs. Specific activities include convening and engaging communities and persons with disabilities in various disaster risk reduction activities; conducting trainings for emergency responders and volunteers; and disaster simulations and drills designed to test and improve preparations and mitigation measures.
We will build the capacity of communities to better handle a future disaster and meet the needs of all people, including PWDs. Measures include evacuation plans, early emergency communication systems, and shelter design. The project will train responders and volunteers to operate in disasters, run drills, and raise awareness in communities about the needs of persons with disabilities. Capacity-building efforts will help to save lives, prevent injuries and help communities respond and recover.