African experts urge inclusion of older, disabled persons in disaster response

Added On September 22, 2016

 There is need for African governments and humanitarian actors to give special attention to the plight of older and disabled persons who bear the brunt of natural and man-made disasters, experts said on Wednesday.

Speaking during the launch of a charter on inclusion of older and disabled persons in humanitarian action in Nairobi, the experts urged governments and multilateral agencies to roll out strategic interventions that shield this vulnerable demographic from disasters.

Prafulla Mishra, the regional director of the HelpAge International, said policy, legislative and funding incentives are crucial to ensure any disaster response places the aging and disabled population at the central stage.

"The older and disabled persons must be supported to access humanitarian response in line with the core principles of humanity and impartiality," Mishra said.

The World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in May adopted a charter that called for greater inclusion of older and disabled persons in conflict and natural disaster responses.

Mishra said there is a consensus among governments and humanitarian actors on the need to initiate disaster mitigation and adaptation strategies that are sensitive to the needs of vulnerable population.

The Kenya County Director for the international charity, Christian Aid, Dr John Kituyi said a new policy dialogue was an imperative to advance the welfare of older and disabled African population trapped in conflicts and natural disasters.

"Climate change and the refugee crises have disproportionately impacted on the aging and disabled population in Africa. As a result, they are living in squalid conditions that have worsened trauma," Kituyi said.

He urged African states to implement continental and global instruments that advance the welfare of the aging and disabled population.