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Since Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti and Cuba on 4 October 2016, CBM Emergency Response Unit, in close collaboration with our Haiti Country Coordination Office and local partners, has implemented a response which includes persons with disabilities and other more at-risk community members.
In Cuba, we are supplying affected people with portable water filter units, essential to allow decentralised provision of clean water.
In Haiti, our overall goal is to ensure that the affected population, including persons with disabilities and their families, is able to access relief aid, psychosocial support and recover their livelihoods (gardening and livestock). Our initial response is being implemented in two interlinked phases, extending over nine months, by which time we will be rolling out a longer-term strategy that ensures future rehabilitation and resilience-building.
Identification and referral
To date, through our 'Community-based Protection Project', we have identified and interviewed more than 1,900 persons with disabilities in Les Cayes and Jérémie, two of the worst-hit areas. This detailed information will allow us to make referrals to the best-suited service providers.
This is being done from two temporary field bases in close coordination with the Office of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (BSEIPH) and local Disabled Person's Organisations (DPOs), meaning that persons with disabilities are not only end beneficiaries of our work but actively involved and building capacity as responders.
Simultaneously, we are raising awareness and understanding of inclusion within 'mainstream' humanitarian agencies, both through their interaction with DPOs and by proactive advocacy work at community and cluster level.
All relevant staff have received Psychological First Aid (PFA) training, to maximise both their own ability to deal with trauma and to ensure that clients' mental health post-disaster is recognised and addressed in the best way possible.
As our response evolves, we will constantly monitor the situation to ensure appropriate delivery of services and will ensure our own, and partners' capacities are matching the needs on the ground.
Disability and emergencies
The WHO estimates 15% of the global population live with disability. In any emergency or disaster, people who live with some form of disability are disproportionally affected. Reasons for this include inaccessibility of warning messages and emergency shelters, loss and damage of assistive devices, disruption of support networks and increased difficulty in accessing basic humanitarian operations (food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care services).
At the same time, emergencies can increase the number of people who experience disability, both short and long-term, due to injuries sustained and lack of effective medical services.