VDPA Representative

Freda Willie, a representative from the Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (VPDA), has emphasized the importance of ensuring evacuation centers cater for people living with a disability.

“Disability inclusion means a person knowing how to work with people with special needs,” Willie said.

“When government provides evacuation centres, do they take into consideration the requirements for each disability needs?

“Accessibility is providing disabilities with suitable environment, such as access to higher buildings. When talking about buildings we should include everything, from light, mobility, space and including resources. Do you play your part in including this in your evacuation centers?”

She raised her concern on how the government and partners should provide relevant materials in which a disability can utilize, when providing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) materials after a disaster.

The disability advocator said the government and donor partners should ensure effective services are provided to people with special needs with suitable officers, dedicated to address their needs.

Concerning distribution exercises, Ms Willie appealed for donor partners to provide organic food instead of canned food and rice, due to medical conditions faced by disabilities.

“Regarding shelter distribution, a lot of times tarpaulins are distributed. What if you provide cement, how can a person living with a disability build his/her own house with it?” she questioned.

“We need officers to assist us in addressing such areas.

“We have the right to access the government’s and donors’ services as the general public. Today a lot of us face the challenges on gaining access to government and donor services, even awareness.

“Government institutions should employ people with special needs or send officers to attend trainings on how to address people with special needs, effectively. Yes, disability is a complicated issue. It is an expensive issue, but we are also human beings. We don’t want discrimination.”

Mr. Christian Tuku from Save the Children said there are existing structures within communities. These includes community governance, churches and the community to ensure service sustainability.

He added that the area councils have taken the initiative to address community matters.

“We acknowledge the government for addressing disability inclusion in country. However, it is also everyone’s duty to join hands together to ensure all community members receive services,” he said.

The concerns were raised during panel discussions on community governance level at the recent International DRR event in Luganville, Santo.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post