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Daily-current-affairs / 16 Oct 2023

Empowering Inclusivity: India's Pioneering Initiatives in Disaster Risk Reduction for Persons with Disabilities : Daily News Analysis


Date : 17/10/2023

Relevance – GS Paper 3 – Disaster Management

Keywords – UNDRR, NDMA, Sneha Abhiyan, CDRI, Decision Making


In 2023, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) carried out a global survey on individuals with disabilities and their experiences with disasters, building upon the survey conducted in 2013.


UNDRR, established in 1999 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, was formed with the aim of overseeing the execution of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Subsequently, it has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

Survey Report Overview:

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) unveiled its survey report ahead of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (October 13). The report, centered around the theme "Fighting Inequality for a Resilient Future," aligns with the principles outlined in the Sendai Framework.

Survey Objective:

The primary goal of the survey was to evaluate the disaster preparedness of individuals with disabilities. It focused on assessing the accessibility of early warning systems, awareness levels regarding disaster risk reduction (DRR) plans, and the active participation of people with disabilities in DRR decision-making processes.

Understanding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR):

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) involves the implementation of practices and strategies aimed at minimizing the vulnerabilities and risks associated with both natural and human-made disasters.

Key Survey Findings:

The survey revealed concerning trends, including limited progress in incorporating disability inclusion in DRR efforts over the past decade, irrespective of regional disparities. The findings highlighted low awareness levels regarding DRR plans among disabled individuals, inadequate DRR plans tailored to the specific needs of persons with disabilities, and limited involvement in local-level DRR decisions. Shockingly, 24% of respondents had experienced displacement due to crises or disasters, primarily attributed to armed conflict or violence.

Recommendations for Action:

To address these challenges, the report suggests several key recommendations:

  • Dedicated Leadership Roles: Establish dedicated leadership positions focused on disability inclusion and addressing underlying risk factors to promote resilience and inclusion for all.
  • Compliance with International Standards: Ensure adherence to international laws and standards that safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • Inclusive Policy Making: Actively include persons with disabilities in the policymaking processes related to disaster risk reduction.
  • Addressing Intersectionality: Acknowledge and address intersectionalities and diversity within DRR policies and practices.
  • Equity and Equality: Strive for equity between persons with and without disabilities in all measures aimed at reducing and preventing disaster risk.
  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 underscores the pivotal role of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) as contributing stakeholders. It emphasizes the imperative need for their inclusion in all DRR policies and practices, aligning with the survey's core objectives.

India's Pioneering Initiatives:

In September 2019, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) introduced groundbreaking guidelines titled 'National Disaster Management Guidelines on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction, 2019' (NDMA 2019). This marked a global milestone, being the first comprehensive set of guidelines globally addressing disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DiDRR).

About National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) functions as India's top regulatory body for disaster management. Established on 27th September 2006 under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it is chaired by the Prime Minister and comprises nine members, including a designated Vice-Chairperson. The NDMA's core responsibilities include coordinating responses to natural or man-made disasters, enhancing disaster resilience, and formulating policies, plans, and guidelines for effective disaster management. Their vision is centered on creating a safer and disaster-resistant India through proactive, technology-driven, and sustainable strategies involving all stakeholders, fostering a culture of prevention, preparedness, and mitigation.

Key Features of NDMA Guidelines:

  • Information Accessibility: Ensuring sign language interpretation and subtitles in video materials for individuals with hearing impairments.
  • Comprehensive Training: Training emergency response personnel to understand the rights of persons with disabilities and associated disaster risks.
  • 24x7 Helplines: Establishment of round-the-clock helplines for individuals with disabilities.
  • Essential Services: Providing doorstep delivery of caregiver support, supplies, and medical aid for persons with disabilities.
  • State Commissioner for PwDs: Appointment of a State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as the focal point for addressing disability-specific issues during crises.
  • Awareness Promotion: Spreading awareness about disaster risk reduction challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
  • Technological Support: Encouragement of technological innovations aiding persons with disabilities in disaster risk reduction.
  • Community Sensitization: Sensitizing local communities about the presence and special needs of persons with disabilities, especially during disasters.
  • Informed Preparation: Implementing measures, including early warnings, to inform and prepare persons with disabilities adequately.
  • Active Participation: Ensuring active involvement of persons with disabilities as equal participants in disaster preparedness and planning.
  • Property Protection: Special attention to safeguard the property and assets of persons with disabilities during evacuations or post-disaster situations.

Other National Efforts:

  • G20 DRR Working Group: India established the inaugural G20 Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction, prioritizing DRR within the G20.
  • Enhanced Early Warning Systems: Effective early warning systems during events like Cyclone Biparjoy resulted in zero deaths in India.
  • UN Secretary General's Initiative: India strives to achieve universal early warning coverage for all by the end of 2027.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CRDI): India launched CRDI with the UN, supporting policy development and disaster-resilient infrastructure in developing nations.
  • Manual for Disaster Management Plan: The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti released the Manual for Disaster Management Plan, enhancing disaster preparedness.

Exemplary Practices in Odisha:

  • Sneha Abhiyaan: Self-help groups manage cyclone shelters, ensuring distribution of cooked food.
  • Mamta Gruhas: Safe spaces providing comprehensive care for women, children, and vulnerable groups.
  • Training and Capacity Building: State Disaster Response Forces (SDRF) train frontline workers, including ASHAs and self-help groups, in various disaster response aspects.


These initiatives mark India's significant strides toward becoming an inclusive society. They not only signify progress but also pave the way for future advancements. Involving stakeholders and caregivers in decision-making processes can further refine strategies, making them more tailored and sensitive to the diverse needs of persons with disabilities.

Probable Questions for Mains Exam

  1. Discuss the key findings and recommendations from the UNDRR survey on disaster preparedness among individuals with disabilities. How can India, through its initiatives like NDMA guidelines, address the challenges highlighted in the survey? (10 marks, 150 words)
  2. Examine the role of technology and community sensitization in enhancing disaster resilience for persons with disabilities, as exemplified by initiatives in Odisha. How can these practices be replicated on a national scale for comprehensive disaster preparedness and response? (15 marks, 250 words)

Source – DTE