On Tuesday, September 19, 2017 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico, killing more than 220 people to date. At least 11 Hilton Prize Laureates operate in the surrounding region. Through protocols established under the Hilton Prize Coalition Disaster Relief and Resiliency Program, the Coalition is facilitating communications between these organizations to share information that might help to support collective relief efforts. Responses may include resource-sharing among Coalition members in the countries or regions affected to assist with recovery.
Collaboration between the affected organizations is supported by the Coalition’s Clearinghouse, a central repository of information about each respective Laureate organization and its operational capacities. The Clearinghouse function was developed to increase the organization’s knowledge of each other’s activities that would promote their ability to work in concert with one another.
Updates on the response efforts underway by Coalition members are being collected and shared on the Coalition’s Twitter feed.
(AP Photo: People walk through a neighborhood in Jojutla, Mexico, where many buildings collapsed the day before.)
In recognition of National Preparedness Month, this post is written by Marcie Roth, CEO of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies and an industry expert in global disability inclusive emergency management and community inclusion. Marcie has most recently been working with Handicap International, where she researched the impact of climate change on persons with disabilities.
Disability Inclusion in Climate-Related Disaster Preparation By Marcie Roth
Since April 2017, with the support of the Hilton Prize Coalition, I’ve had the great opportunity to work with Handicap International (HI), and immerse myself in researching the global efforts to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on children and adults with disabilities. HI has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years with a focus on responding to essential needs, improving living conditions, and promoting respect for dignity and basic rights. It is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines; the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997; and the winner of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2011. HI takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
I share the organization’s very strong commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities and the imperative for equal access and full inclusion in all aspects of home and community living, before, during and after disasters. On September 13, 2001, while working for the National Council on Independent Living, I was asked by New York disability leaders to help New Yorkers with disabilities living in the “frozen zone” around Ground Zero. They weren’t getting their usual in-home services, due to an emergency operations decision to limit entry by non-residents. I reached out to government and non-governmental organizations to find someone who was leading an effort to address the emergency and disaster related rights and accommodations of children and adults with disabilities. I couldn’t find anyone leading the charge, so I worked with the White House and organized community groups to address the immediate unmet needs of these survivors.
This experience led to my work over the past 16 years transforming the nation’s approach to addressing the civil rights of children and adults with disabilities before, during, and after disasters. Half of this time has been spent in leadership roles in non-governmental and disabled persons organizations. The other half was spent establishing and leading the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) throughout President Obama’s Administration. Through this work, real progress has been made on not only reducing the disproportionate impact of disasters on people with disabilities, but also older adults, people who are very poor, experience homelessness, have limited English proficiency, low literacy, and others who also have access and functional needs.
My work with HI consisted of an extensive review of climate change adaptation initiatives underway across the globe. As the CEO of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, a membership organization bringing together local, state, national and global organizations with a shared commitment to disability inclusive emergency management, I organize and lead initiatives to help communities prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate disasters. My focus is on the increased frequency and intensity of disasters, including disasters associated with climate change.
There is a vast disconnect between the well-documented impact of climate change on the needs, rights and contributions of children and adults with disabilities and the organizational work being funded and implemented to prepare for and adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change across the globe. Almost all efforts to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on people with disabilities view the problem and solution as a health and medical “problem,” not a human rights imperative. This is a recipe for failure. There is an urgent and immediate need for a wholesale shift toward human rights, social justice, inclusion, and universal accessibility.
Climate change is causing immense and devastating hydrometeorological and other severe impacts across both developing and developed countries. Immediate and sustained climate change adaptation must involve everyone. This means planning with, not for, people with disabilities. This can only be achieved by including in all planning efforts the voices and accessibility needs of people with disabilities, older adults, women, indigenous people, and individuals who experience poverty at the center of every effort. Inclusion and accessibility will benefit impacted communities, allowing them to optimize limited resources and maximize whole community engagement.
Disability inclusion experts have a great role to play in guiding and leading climate change adaptation investments by governments, non-governmental entities, private sector, scientists, and civil society. HI has a track record of success in climate change-specific and related initiatives in communities across the globe. Their experience is needed more than ever, as it is ideally suited to address the immediate and ongoing need for the expertise of disability leaders in guiding whole community inclusion in preparing for, adapting to and surviving the devastating effects of global climate change.
The disability rights adage, “nothing about us, without us,” places persons with disabilities and their representative organizations firmly into the decision-making process. This has never been more vital to the future of the citizens of our planet. Although my time with Handicap International is drawing to a close, the work I did with them will be extremely valuable as I continue moving from words into action to reduce the disproportionate impact of disasters on children and adults with disabilities and communities impacted by extreme weather and other hazards facing the citizens of our planet.
September is National Preparedness Month in the US. It’s a good time to review your personal and family preparedness plan. Go to www.ready.gov for preparedness tips.
(Photos: Marcie Roth speaking at meetings of the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in 2015, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2017. All photos courtesy of the author.)
Today’s post was written by Regine A. Webster, Vice President at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. The organization aims to transform the field of disaster philanthropy by providing educational, fund opportunities and strategic guidance to increase donor effectiveness throughout the lifecycle of disasters. In this piece, Ms. Webster provides an overview of the current refugee crisis with an eye on what smart funders are doing to achieve greater impact.
Trends in the Refugee Crisis: Tips for Smart Funders By Regine A. Webster
[ref-u-gee:noun A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or violence.]
The global refugee crisis has continued to grow, and more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around the world. More than half of those refugees come from three countries: Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).
The United Nations Refugee Agency notes that a record 34,000 people a day, or roughly 24 people a minute, are displaced from their homes by conflict and violence daily. Children make up 51 percent of the world’s refugees. The organization lists three main reasons:
Conflicts that cause large refugee outflows, like Somalia and Afghanistan – now in their third and fourth decade respectively – are lasting longer.
Dramatic new or reignited conflicts and situations of insecurity are occurring more frequently. While today’s largest is Syria, wars have broken out in the past five years in South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine and Central African Republic, while thousands more people have fled raging gang and other violence in Central America.
The rate at which solutions are being found for refugees and internally displaced people has been on a falling trend since the end of the Cold War, leaving a growing number in limbo.
As stated by UNHCR, “We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.” This comes as we enter the seventh year of the Syrian civil war. And, at the same time that the world is witnessing four countries tumble into famine. In effect, we are not just witnessing the largest displacement, but rather, it is the largest human displacement coupled with the largest number of food insecure people across the globe since World War II. If that fact is not enough to stop you in your tracks, then I am not sure what could.
And yet, remaining complacent is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option.
To make a real difference, I recommend that your organization look to follow in the footsteps of smart funders who are taking the following actions:
Educate yourselves about the crisis. Funders are learning about effective actions taken by other members of the U.S. funder community, researching what they can DO to make a difference, and working to understand the refugee journey. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) has authored a series of resource guides that support this investigative effort. CDP is also always available for a phone conversation to help you and your organization craft a strategy to support the global refugee crisis.
Give your time, talent, and resources. Smart funders are working outside of normal bounds by volunteering locally for a refugee resettlement organization (or one of their local partner organizations like a food bank). They are also lending their legal, financial, or computer expertise to local resettlement organizations or national NGOs. Lastly, smart funders are investing their own personal dollars or recommending organizational investments to finding solutions to the refugee crisis or providing life saving services to refugees and internally displaced persons globally.
Share and discuss. Smart funders are talking about the refugee crisis with their work colleagues and friends to let them know what they are reading, how they are working to help mitigate suffering or resolve the crisis, and how they are investing their dollars (or recommending institutional dollars be channeled) for good.
Be a champion. Smart funders are paying careful attention to the proposed changes to the federal budget. The proposed budget cuts 31 percent from the State Department and foreign assistance budgets. It also cuts the U.S. Refugee Admissions budget by 11 percent and the Department of Health and Human Services Refugee and Entrant Assistance budget by 31 percent. All told, more than $1 billion dollars in cuts to programs that not only help the world’s most vulnerable, both at home and abroad, but help preserve our national security interests around the world. As it pertains to these budgetary issues and welcoming refugees, smart funders are making calls, and sending letters or emails to members of Congress. According to Georgetown Professor Emeritus and CDP Advisory Council member, Susan Martin, members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee are being asked by smart funders to:
Provide full funding to organizations that aid and protect refugees and internally displaced persons.
Maintain robust levels of refugee admissions so that the US can continue to provide much needed leadership with regard to refugee resettlement.
Ensure that US asylum and temporary protection policies protect refugees who are already in the United States from return to life threatening situations at home.
I started this post with the definition of a refugee – A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or violence. Imagine packing one bag per person as you are forced, by fear or famine, from your home. I urge you to read that definition out loud – make it real to you, make it real for your work, make it real for your community.
We are pleased to present a new issue brief that examines critical issues of climate change, refugees, and land tenure rights. This is the product of a collaboration between members Landesa and BRACgenerated through the Hilton Prize Coalition Collaborative Models Program. Landesa led the desk research for and writing of the brief on land and climate change, with a specific focus on slow onset displacement due to drought. The brief highlights a case study by BRAC in Uganda as one of the countries where slow-onset disaster has taken a toll in recent years, and presents best practices as well as a call to action. Read more and download the brief here.
This earthquake in Nepal and the ongoing efforts to rebuild were the focus of the Hilton Prize Coalition’s first production under the Storytelling Program. Below is a recap of some of the stories from the past year that have helped us think about effective approaches to disaster preparation, as well as some updates on the work being done today.
FILM: On Shifting Ground
The pilot project highlighted six member organizations that were among those who mobilized in response to the earthquake: BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, HelpAgeInternational, Operation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages. The resulting film, “On Shifting Ground,” has been shown around the world to initiate dialogue around rethinking approaches to disaster response and ways to build community resiliency. Click here to view the film.
Through the production of the film, the organizations gained greater familiarity with one another’s capacities in the region and formed a framework for collaboration that continues to this day. In March 2017, more than 10 organizations met in Kathmandu to establish protocols, building on the lessons learned and their collective experiences in the sector. Read more in this blog post by the Coalition’s Collaboration Coordinator in Nepal, Sumnina Shrestha.
BLOG SERIES: Voices from Nepal
Director Steve Connors, along with members of Storytelling crew, shared insights about their experiences during the February 2016 filming process and beyond, highlighting especially the collaborations that have since taken root.
We were also pleased to learn about BRAC’s ELA program in Nepal that is empowering girls today, in this blog post written by Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Sheetal Tuladhar.
VIDEOS: Leading Thoughts
Hilton Prize Laureate organizations recognize how critical preparation and collaboration between organizations are to effective disaster preparation. Here are two clips from the “Leading Thoughts’ series that address how these played out in Nepal. Click on the links or watch them on the Story Wall.
Sumnima Shrestha is the Communication and Resource Mobilization Manager with Heifer International – Nepal. She currently serves as Collaboration Coordinator for the Hilton Prize Coalition in Nepal. Sumnima holds more than 9 years of experience in the development sector, especially in advocacy, networking and resource mobilization, program development, project management, community empowerment and entrepreneurship. Here, Sumnima reflects on the Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning (DPRP) workshop held on March 2-3, 2017 in Kathmandu.
Hilton Laureates in Nepal Join Hands for Disaster Preparedness and Response
by Sumnima Shrestha
Getting different organizations and people together on one platform, and building a common understanding among them is a challenging part of any coalition. The Hilton Prize Coalition in Nepal is unique in itself. Coalition member organizations are working in diverse sectors with varied missions ranging from income and food security to disability and health. They have fascinating stories of their own, their interests are different, and above all, they are busy. When I became Collaboration Coordinator under the Coalition’s Collaborative Models Program, I had to overcome the challenge of making myself and others motivated and comfortable. I took this as an opportunity and met with each of the members, learned about their interests and worked to define one common goal to achieve greater collective impact for the world’s most vulnerable people.
A common footprint manifested by each of the Coalition members was their involvement in relief and response activities during the April 2015 Nepal mega-earthquake. Though disaster relief is not the primary mission of all of these organizations, they moved out of their comfort zones and brought extraordinary results towards relief and recovery, benefiting thousands of people. Based on the lessons learned by the members and their interest to rise up during humanitarian crises, the need of a joint plan for future disaster preparedness and response was realized. A workshop on “Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning (DPRP)” was designed with objectives to understand disaster preparedness and emergency response as an integral part of development, and to develop joint response plans for working together in future natural disasters.
A total of 18 participants from 10 Coalition member organizations attended the workshop March 2-3, 2017 in Kathmandu. The theoretical sessions built capacity of the participants on disaster management cycles, preparedness and response, a vulnerability assessment tool for preparedness, and linkages with development interventions they are currently implementing. Phanindra Adhikari from CVICT, an IRCT member organization, described the event as “a wonderful experience. I had opportunity to gain knowledge as well as share my learning.”
The sessions were enriched by stories and experience-sharing of the participants. Said Sheetal Tuladhar of BRAC, “Sharing experiences of participating organizations was the most valuable part of this workshop…being a beginner in the development and humanitarian sectors, it was especially valuable to learn these concepts and match them with organizational experiences.” Moreover, the group discussion on institutional mechanisms of disaster preparedness was eye-opening to the participants. The workshop focused on developing objectives of joint disaster preparedness and concluded with an official response plan of the Coalition. A task force comprising of BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, and SOS Children’s Villages was formed for completing this plan.
The 2-day workshop with networking and team-building activities helped to strengthen these formal and informal connections, as well as personal relationships among Coalition members. One of the participants commented, “This workshop provided a platform for networking with such good organizations and I also got to learn more about them. This helped me for future collaborations, and I will definitely work towards it.”
Without a doubt, this workshop helped to establish unity in diversity. The beauty of this Coalition is that there is no competition between its members. Each are working in individual themes that are not overlapping with each other; integrating these themes results in holistic development. The Storytelling Program pilot advanced this collaboration and I am happy to be a part of this journey.