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Climate change’s role in disaster risk reduction’s future : beyond vulnerability and resilience

MERCER, Jessica
March 2015

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A seminal policy year for development and sustainability occurs in 2015 due to three parallel processes that seek long-term agreements for climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and disaster risk reduction. Little reason exists to separate them, since all three examine and aim to deal with many similar processes, including vulnerability and resilience. This article uses vulnerability and resilience to explore the intersections and overlaps amongst climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainability. Critiquing concepts such as “return to normal” and “double exposure” demonstrate how separating climate change from wider contexts is counterproductive. Climate change is one contributor to disaster risk and one creeping environmental change amongst many, and not necessarily the most prominent or fundamental contributor. Yet climate change has become politically important, yielding an opportunity to highlight and tackle the deep-rooted vulnerability processes that cause “multiple exposure” to multiple threats. To enhance resilience processes that deal with the challenges, a prudent place for climate change would be as a subset within disaster risk reduction. Climate change adaptation therefore becomes one of many processes within disaster risk reduction. In turn, disaster risk reduction should sit within development and sustainability to avoid isolation from topics wider than disaster risk. Integration of the topics in this way moves beyond expressions of vulnerability and resilience towards a vision of disaster risk reduction’s future that ends tribalism and separation in order to work together to achieve common goals for humanity.

Disability Inclusion in Primary Health Care in Nepal: An Explorative Study of Perceived Barriers to Access Governmental Health Services


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Purpose: Persons with disabilities face additional barriers in accessing primary healthcare services, especially in developing countries. Consequently the prevalence of secondary health conditions is higher among this population. This study aims to explore the perceived barriers to access primary healthcare services by persons with disabilities in the Western region of Nepal.


Methods: 10 primary healthcare providers and 11 persons with disabilities (physically or visually impaired) were selected by non-governmental organisations from the hilly and lower areas. Based on the International Classification of Functioning and the health accessibility model of Institute of Medicine, semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using analytical induction.


Results: In general, healthcare providers and persons with disabilities reported similar barriers. Transportation and the attitude of family members and the community were the main environmental barriers. Even with assistive devices, people still depend on their families. Financial barriers were lack of funds for health expenses, problems in generating an income by persons with disabilities themselves, and the low socio-economic status of their families. Personal barriers, which affect help-seeking behaviour in a major way, were most often mentioned in relation to financial and socio-environmental barriers. Low self-esteem of the person with disability determines the family’s attitude and the motivation to seek out healthcare. Lastly, poor public awareness about the needs of persons with disabilities was reported.


Conclusions: Besides the known physical environmental barriers, this study found several environmental, financial and personal barriers that also affect access to primary healthcare. In particular, the attitudes of families and poor financial conditions seem to be interrelated and greatly influence help-seeking behaviour.

Dialogues on sustainable development : a disability-inclusive perspective


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“This publication, with contributions from civil society, UN agencies and EU institutions as well as disability and development organisations…highlights the many commonalities between disability-inclusive development and a range of overarching development themes. It is structured around the three basic elements of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental sustainability – and discusses a range of sub topics relevant to these areas” 


Note: easy-to-read version is provided as a related resource link

Making sure people with disabilities everywhere can have a better future


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“This easy-to-read version outlines countries’ development plans looking at how all people in the world can have a better life. The plans involve jobs and money, having a say, women and girls, making cities easier to live in, being clean and safe, coping when big problems happen and having access to information. A case study is also provided

The right to adequate housing for persons with disabilities living in cities


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“This study reviews the literature on the meaning and impact of the right to adequate housing for persons with disabilities in cities. It uses the foundational framework of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and demonstrates how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides a new understanding of this complex right”


Adequate Housing Series

Disability framework : leaving no one behind

December 2014

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This framework is intended to consolidate and explain the changes that are happening within DFID to strengthen disability inclusion in their policies and programmes, and outline the actions DFID will take over the next 12 months.  It is aimed at DFID staff

The road to dignity by 2030 : ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet : synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 agenda

December 2014

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This synthesis report of the UN Secretary General was written to guide negotiations for a new global agenda centred on people and the planet, and underpinned by human rights, supporting States’ discussions going forward. The extensive document presents information in short numbered paragraphs, within six sections: 1) A universal call to action; 2) A synthesis “taking stock of the negotiations on the post-2015 agenda and reviewing lessons from pursuit of the MDGs; 3) Framing the agenda; 4) Mobilising the means to Implement our agenda; 5) Delivering our agenda; 6) Conclusion: together in a universal compact. It highlights the need to “finish the job,” both to help people now and as a launch pad for the new agenda


African university students’ perspectives on disability access

HIGBEE, Jeanne
December 2014

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Responding to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), this paper reports on the results of one phase of a qualitative research study conducted at a large, public, multi-campus university in East Africa to explore the challenges faced by students with physical disabilities. Recommendations from a focus group are presented and implications for pedagogical and institutional transformation are discussed

Journal of Diversity Management, Volume 9, Number 12

Equality at the core : a call for a strong commitment to tackling inequalities through the post-2015 agenda

November 2014

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At the Copenhagen Conference, with 170 representatives across 46 countries, the campaign discussed the vital importance of achieving equality across all levels and themes of the post-2015 framework, and through implementation and accountability mechanisms addressing all three dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental). This Beyond 2015 Copenhagen Statement contains recommendations to contribute to the forthcoming intergovernmental negotiations, and other decision-making processes relevant to the post-2015 agenda, including discussions around the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report

Beyond 2015 Copenhagen Conference

November 2014

Copenhagen, Denmark

Accessibility for persons with mobility impairments within an informal trading site: A case study on the markets of Warwick, South Africa

NAIDOO, Pragashnie
KOCH, Helga E
ANDERSON, Jassmine
GHELA, Prashika
HOOSEN, Nausheena
KHAN, Halima

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Background: There are a number of informal trading sites across cities in sub-Saharan Africa,of which the markets of Warwick is one example. Since the informal economy is an important contributor to a city’s economy as well as a source of employment, it is important for these sites to be accessible for all persons. Whilst the South African government has put structures in place to identify and remove environmental barriers in order to meet the individual needs of persons with mobility impairments and improve their quality of life, persons with mobility impairments still face barriers and restricting environments that prevent them from participating in society and its social and economic activities.


Objectives: This case study aimed at exploring accessibility within the markets of Warwick for persons with mobility impairments by an ergonomic assessment, augmented by voices of participants within the market.


Method: A qualitative, instrumental, single case study design was utilised with purposive sampling of the markets of Warwick as the study setting. Multiple sources of data were gathered, such as semi-structured interviews, direct observations of an environmental survey supported by photographs, and the authors’ review of relevant documents. Transcriptions were analysed using NVivo 10 software programme with inductive coding.


Results: Whilst policies have been in place since 1996 to adjust infrastructure, the markets of Warwick still remain inaccessible to persons with mobility impairments and do not meet the standardised infrastructural design.


Conclusion: The findings of this study may offer a significant understanding of the complexity of accessibility within an informal trading site and create an awareness of the limitations this has for persons with mobility impairments. Additionally, these findings may assist in effecting a positive change in terms of the infrastructure of the Markets and in continuous advocating for the rights of persons with all disabilities.

What has worked for Bringing Out-of-school Children with Disabilities into Regular Schools? A Literature Review


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Purpose: A literature review was undertaken to determine (a) what is currently being done to bring out-of-school children into schools and retain them there; (b) what has succeeded in bringing out-of-school children into schools and retaining them;and (c) what is being done to bring out-of-school children with disabilities into schools?


Methods: Various databases were searched to identify relevant articles for the review. Only articles published after the year 2000 were included in the analysis.


Results: A total of 23 articles were reviewed. The review identified economical, socio-cultural and school-related variables that contribute to children being excluded from schooling. Various strategies that have worked to bring out-of-school children into schools include alternative education, rebates and incentives, and community awareness programmes.


Conclusions and Implications: The review found that there is insufficient research on out-of-school children with disabilities. However, research on the population of children without disabilities has implications that can be relevant to children with disabilities.

Breaking the Barriers: Ghanaians’ Perspectives about the Social Model


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Purpose: The social model of disability emphasises the identification and removal of barriers to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream society. The study examines issues associated with the exclusion of women with physical disabilities in Tamale, Ghana, and makes recommendations for the effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially the women, in society.


Method: Data were gathered through in-depth individual interviews and focus group discussions. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit 10 women with physical disabilities for the in-depth interviews. Purposive sampling was also used to recruit 14 representatives from government and civil society organisations for 2 multi-organisational focus groups. Using open coding and line-by-line analysis, themes and categories were identified. Themes that emerged from the focus groups and from the individual interviews were compared and contrasted to arrive at conclusions about the participation of women with physical disabilities in mainstream society.


Results: Study participants identified barriers (attitudinal, institutional, architectural, transportation, and information) and suggested methods to eradicate them and foster inclusion. At the same time they felt that it was equally important to change certain attitudes of persons with disabilities (ignorance about available resources, opportunities and potential, low levels of self-confidence, and negative reactions to societal attitudes) which contribute to their exclusion from society.


Conclusion: Advocacy interventions are recommended, which include public education, building relationships and mobilising the public for advocacy campaigns. Decision-makers need to be persuaded to make additional policies and/or enforce existing ones, to promote the inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society.

Where can design have the greatest impact in the next five years?

CASEY, Valerie
April 2014

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This special 100th journal issue focuses on women, design and social impact. The concept of "Design for all" is that the starting point should be the needs of people with activity limitation, such as physical, sensory and mental or cognitive limitation, and spaces, buildings and products should be designed to be accessible to all without losing the aesthetic or adding to cost.

The Journal contains 10 short essays by designers addressing issues such as: the need to assess the requirements of users first; exploring the political and social aspects of design; the responsibilities of designers; design as a problem solving tool;design to improve the lives of the poorest; sustainability; development; technology; and the environment

Design For All Journal​, Vol 9, No 4 

Guidelines for assisting people with disabilities during emergencies, crises and disasters : European and Mediterranean major hazards agreement

January 2014

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This set of guidelines is intended to ensure that national governments, and their counterparts at regional and local level, civil society organisations and relevant offices in both the public and private sector obtain a clear idea of how to proceed with the provision of disaster risk reduction for people with disabilities. It begins with a set of working definitions and then considers the requirements of good preparedness during all the phases of crisis management: mitigation and planning (disaster risk reduction), alert, emergency action, and recovery. The care of people with disabilities needs to be considered with respect to all of these phases

AP/CAT (2013) 11

Open working group proposal for sustainable development goals


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This UN report sets out the proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals and accompanying targets, developed for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly at its 68th session. These goals were developed by the Open Working on Sustainable Development Goals as a result of the mandate set out in the Rio+20 outcome document

Note: Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals is issued as document A/68/970

Disability, poverty and education: perceived barriers and (dis)connections in rural Guatemala

GRECH, Shaun

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This paper engages with the impacts of disability on the formal education of disabled people in poor rural areas. Reporting on qualitative ethnographic work in Guatemala, adults with a physical impairment provided retrospective accounts of their educational trajectories. Findings highlight multidimensional and dynamic barriers to education confronted by all poor people, but which often intensified for disabled people. These met a host of disability-specific barriers cutting across social, physical, economic, political and personal spheres. Findings report how in the face of more persistent basic needs and costs, education had a high opportunity cost, and often could not be sustained. Disabled parents also came to prioritise the education of their children translating into limited or no school re-entry for these parents. The paper concludes that engagement with temporal and context specific (but fluid) spaces of poverty is necessary, because it is within these spaces that disability and education are constructed and lived, and within and through which barriers emerge. Cross-sectoral efforts are needed, addressing educational barriers for all poor people indiscriminately, while targeting families to remove obstacles to other basic needs competing with education. Critically, efforts are needed to ensure that educational outcomes are linked to immediate contributions to the family economy and welfare through work.


Disability and the Global South (DGS), 2014, Vol. 1 No. 1

Evaluation of Environmental Barriers faced by Wheelchair Users in India


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Purpose: Environmental factors restrict the extent to which people with disabilities can participate in society. The reduction of environmental barriers will increase their participation in the social, educational and vocational spheres of life. With the use of a valid and reliable tool - the Craig Hospital Inventory of Environmental Factors (CHIEF) questionnaire - this study aimed to evaluate the environmental barriers faced by wheelchair users in Bangalore city, India.


Method: A convenience sample of 100 wheelchair users, between 16 and 40 years of age, and working in different institutions in Bangalore, participated in the study. The CHIEF questionnaire was administered to each participant. It consisted of multiple questions pertaining to the 5 components of environmental barriers faced by wheelchair users: Accessibility, Accommodation, Resource availability, Social support and Equality. Percentage values for the responses in each component were calculated.


Results: The results showed that 52% of wheelchair users faced problems in Accessibility on a daily basis, and 77% of them felt the problem was big. With respect to Accommodation, 41% faced problems once a month and 50% of them felt that this was a big problem. The maximum percentage of participants did not face problems in Resource availability (43%), Social support (50%) and Equality (59%), and therefore these aspects were not felt to be a big problem.


Conclusion: An understanding of the environmental barriers faced by wheelchair users can provide guidance in mapping policies and strengthening laws which would help to improve their quality of life.