ASEAN drives a ‘not so obvious conversation’ with Persons with Disabilities

Bangkok, 12 October 2013 – Disasters impact everyone, but in different degrees. This year, the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management (ADDM) celebrates the resilience and role of people with disabilities before, during and after disasters. “Innovating Together Towards a Safe ASEAN Community” is this year’s theme for ADDM with a special focus on the campaign, “People with Disabilities, Step Up for Disaster Risk Reduction!”. The 2013 ADDM and IDDR intend to switch on the “not so obvious conversation” that must take place on the critical issue of addressing the needs of persons living with disabilities in potential disaster scenarios.

The highlight of ADDM this year is the market place exhibit at the open space area in front of the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre, Thailand. The event will showcase the “Wall of Resilience” inviting the public to signify their commitments for a safer and more disaster-resilient region. The event will also recognise “advocates” from the government and civil society for disaster management initiatives under the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). The one-day programme will showcase demonstrations on how to rescue people with disabilities during disasters, music and puppet performances, storytelling, panel discussions, show of rescue dogs, presentations, simulations and many others.

The ADDM has been jointly commemorated by ASEAN together with the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) since 2004. This year’s joint commemoration reunited ASEAN’s partners, such as the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the AADMER Partnership Group, Thailand Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), HelpAge International, Thailand-based civil society organisations and the private sector. The ADDM is a regular public outreach programme of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management under the regional agreement known as AADMER. Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has been the lead in this outreach programme. ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) are also active partners and supporters of this regional event.

The event on 12 October in Bangkok was preceded by an Orientation and Induction Workshop for AADMER Advocates. The workshop gathered twenty representatives from the governments of ASEAN countries as well as ASEAN-based civil society organisations who will be expected to promote and advocate for implementation of AADMER in their countries. The workshop was organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and the AADMER Partnership Group, with the support of ASEAN-Australia Cooperation for the Implementation of AADMER Work Programme (2010-2015) and UNISDR.

Across the ASEAN region, there are also events to commemorate the 2013 ADDM and IDDR, such as community campaigns and performances by people with disabilities in Cambodia, unveiling of the AADMER in braille in Lombok island of Indonesia, and simulations, exhibit and promotions in the Philippines.

Within a week, ASEAN will organise another major event to test ASEAN’s disaster preparedness, i.e. the 2013 ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX), to be hosted by the Government of Viet Nam and AHA Centre in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, on 21-24 October 2013.

ASEAN is comprised of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre are both based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The AADMER Partnership Group is a consortium of civil societies supporting the implementation of AADMER in the ASEAN region.