Leave no-one behind: Disaster risk reduction education for children with disabilities in Indonesia
During disasters, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Bangkok Action Agenda and Biwako +5 state that the safety and protection of people with disabilities must be ensured. Indonesia’s Act No 24 on Disaster Management (2007) also stipulates that disaster management should be nondiscriminatory and prioritise vulnerable groups. Yet disaster risk reduction (DRR) programmes targeting people with disabilities remain rare, perhaps because disability programming is perceived as both technically challenging and costly. DRR education for children may be available in schools, but the majority of Indonesia’s children with disabilities are out of school – denying them access to potentially life-saving information. This article looks at how a project provided DRR education for children with disabilities who are not yet attending schools.
What is disaster risk reduction?
This is a process of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and reduce the causal factors of disasters. It involves, for instance, reducing exposure to hazards and reducing the vulnerability of people and property. It also involves sensible land and environmental management and improving people’s preparedness for disastrous events. DRR education can be provided to children and adults, who can all play a role in reducing risks for themselves and their communities.
Who was involved in the project?
Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), a German NGO, worked with Gunungkidul and Sleman district governments of Yogyakarta province on a project called ‘Building resilience for children with disabilities: strengthening DRR information delivery Indonesia.1 The project targeted 919 children with disabilities outside of school in all of the districts’ 230 villages. A further 7,990 family members and neighbours benefited from the programme. The project used a training-of-trainers approach involving existing community cadres – social workers (usually women) who work voluntarily in a community, for example in data collection, community empowerment, community health, etc. Members of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) collaborated with them as ‘role-model’ trainers.
What approach and tools were used?
An Information Action (IA) approach was used to simplify the process of working with people with disabilities in DRR and address two questions: Can people with disabilities access DRR information? Can they act on that information? Few existing DRR materials can be accessed by children with disabilities, so ASB developed some simple training resources, such as visual materials/activities for children with hearing impairments. These materials provide a simple point of access for cadres who lack a disability technical background and who work in contexts of generally low disability awareness. Key adaptations to DRR education in relation to disability include focusing on providing family/ community support for children who may have difficulty acting on the information they receive; and considering children’s ability to evacuate a location either independently or with assistance.
What impact has this work had?
Cadres reported that participating in this project changed their attitudes towards disability and inspired them to engage better with people with disabilities. They also showed a strong commitment to continue training within the wider community.
“… I always felt pity on children with disabilities and thought that they could do nothing. Now, I realise these children are the same as all children. They also can learn if we teach them. I am glad that through this project a communication forum on DRR and children with disabilities has been established…”
(Yuliatiningsih, a village cadre, Gunungkidul)
Support from government is crucial for ensuring sustainability. Using cadres at the sub-district and village levels to provide DRR information and explain procedures to children with disabilities has now been formalised in local regulations. This approach covers all villages in a district, making it highly replicable; it is currently being adapted for use in Ciamis District, West Java.2 Furthermore, to secure future planning and budgeting of DRR actions for people with disabilities, the district government in Gunungkidul has established an inclusive DRR Action Plan.
More far-reaching impacts have been seen from this project. Most out-of-school children with disabilities, and their families, have limited social interaction within their communities and very low self-esteem. Following trainings by village cadres and DPO members, many children with disabilities and their families demonstrated increased self-confidence.
“Before receiving the DRR training, my child was so shy. He always avoided making eyecontact and ran when meeting strangers. After the training, he started to be more open. We also found he had a talent in drawing. When he showed the drawing to others during the training, he got many compliments. This positive attitude obviously has raised my child’s confidence. He now enjoys playing with other children and is comfortable in making eye-contact and is not afraid of meeting strangers.” (Subarjo, a father of a deaf child)
Wider access and support for children with disabilities has also been achieved during the project. For instance, 85 children with disabilities are now in school and 66 have received wheelchairs from the government and United Cerebral Palsy Wheels for Humanity (UCP WHP). A further 31 children now receive social protection health insurance from government. This has largely been the result and initiative of cadres and DPO members themselves.
“The trainer suggested I register my child to attend school. Now, he is going to school and enjoys learning so much. He is happy because he has got many friends. I can see some developments after his enrolment at school.”
(Martini, a mother of a child with Down’s syndrome)
The project has shown that DRR information and procedures can be effectively delivered economically and on a larger scale to children with disabilities, and by individuals from a nontechnical background. There is an urgent need to reduce the risk from disasters and to build the resilience of communities, and because this we must include the most vulnerable within DRR.
ASB has been working in Indonesia since 2006 and has delivered DRR education for children with disabilities in 130 inclusive schools and 91 special schools. Contact them at:
Jl. Kaliurang KM 10
Nglaban RT 04/RW 05 Sinduharjo
Ngaglik Sleman Yogyakarta 55581 – Indonesia
Phone/Fax: +62 (0) 274 4532103
1 The project was co-financed by the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).
2 “Widening participation of women and children with disabilities in community-focused disaster risk reduction”, a project co-funded by Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction