Disability and Disaster Preparedness and Response: Ensuring Equity and Inclusion

    On February 6, 2023, Türkiye experienced one of the most horrific earthquakes of the century when a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province and strongly shook several other provinces, including Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis. For centuries, natural disasters and their management have been a major concern for humans. These disasters, such as earthquakes, significantly impact people’s lives and cause devastating effects on buildings, roads, and infrastructure. For people with disabilities, however, the challenges of earthquakes go beyond structural damage.

    Research suggests that mortality rates among people with disabilities are 2 to 4 times higher during natural disasters (2013). The lack of accessibility and preparedness during an evacuation can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the necessity of accessibility for people with disabilities during an earthquake to ensure that no one is left behind in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster relief efforts.

    In this paper, we will explore the concept of accessibility and safety before, during, and after earthquakes and discuss the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for promoting an inclusive and resilient response to earthquakes, especially for people with disabilities.

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