PEOPLE’S VULNERABILITY to the impacts of natural hazards and climate change is determined by social, economic, political, and environmental factors. Disaster risk management aims to address vulnerability in order to reduce risk and therefore needs to consider the full range of vulnerability drivers, including those that affect persons with disabilities.
Persons with disabilities account for 15 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of them live in developing countries. Moreover, the prevalence of disability is expected to rise due to disease, natural disasters, war and conflict, and road traffic injuries, among other factors. In addition, people over age 60 make up 12 percent of the world’s population, a proportion that is expected to increase to over 20 percent by 2050. Elders often face some of the same challenges that complicate daily life for persons with disabilities.
The world’s one billion persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the immediate and long-term effects of natural hazard events. The reasons include not only aspects of disability but also the interplay between disability and other vulnerability drivers, such as poverty. Disability-based discrimination, which marginalizes persons with disabilities in society, can be exacerbated in emergencies. This can increase the disparities between persons with disabilities and other members of society and increase the likelihood that those with disabilities will be particularly disadvantaged during and after an emergency in relief and recovery efforts.