SMRC has been campaigning for the Rights of Disabled in Disaster Preparedness and Management and since 1999.
In 1999 a cyclone of an intense magnitude hit the coast of Odisha in India. The response to the ‘super cyclone’ did not include the disabled, though SMRC as member of the UN and State Coordination Committee tried that disabled be included in policy and implementation. As there was complete chaos, disability was an issue far from policy makers, implementers and donor’s views.
Despite SMRC’s campaign the response was simply not there. SMRC with financial assistance of Cord Aid and later Action Aid started to provide relief and rehabilitation to the disabled affected by the cyclone. We resettled about 3000 persons with disabilities in the process, in the area of Jagatsingpur which was affected the most.
The methodology was comprehensive rehabilitation of disabled from medical treatment, barrier free housing to social inclusion. At this stage preparedness could not be taken up. In 2004 after recurring floods had hit the State and in India disasters were coming to the forefront, SMRC then initiated a full-fledged campaign on disaster preparedness and response. Since 2004 its work has included Lobbying, Research, Advocacy and Training. It developed a Training Manual and a tool kit to address needs of disabled.
Lobbying has been at International, National and local levels. We are proud that we played a role in introducing Article 11 in the UNCRPD which promotes inclusion of disability issues in emergencies, conflicts etc. We also promoted the idea at the RI Assembly and especially the Global Forum for Health Research conferences and research. In this Don Mackay gave a patient hearing and Tomas helped us promote the idea in RI and Mary Anne Burke in the Global Forum. Maria Reina (Syracuse University), Anne Hayes (USAID), Judith Heumann (GPDD) Pia Rockhold (World Bank) and Moira Horgan Jones (DPI) many others assisted in moving the Campaign forward.
In India, General Vij, Chairperson of NDMA, the apex authority in India assisted in including it in the National Act and made our founder a member of the Task Force which would oversee disaster issues in India. OSDMA under Aurobindo Behera and Sunderay assisted in its inclusion in the Orissa Relief code. G. Padmanabhan at UNDP included the issue in the E solution and the World Bank carried out a special e discussion with us as one of the partners (Others being CIR and IDDC).
Among funding agencies it was earlier (1999) Action Aid and Cord Aid and since 2004 Dan Church Aid which came forward with assistance. The issue was new and in the early 2000s, even Handicap International, Red Cross or UN agencies did not come to help out with the Campaign.
With assistance from the Ministry of Social Justice which then found acceptance from Concern World Wide, UNDP, NIDM and NDMA, an international conference was organized in Bhubaneswar in January 2008.