This edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management focuses on disaster management and disaster recovery, with articles particularly on disaster management for vulnerable groups including children, the deaf community and people with physical disabilities.
The average rainfall for the first two weeks of July in England was 6mm, while only 15mm fell throughout all of June, according to the UK’s Environment Agency. To give some idea of how low this is, the definition of a desert is a place with an average rainfall of 21mm per month.
Disasters have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, who are at higher risk of death, injury and loss of property. Although the rights and needs of people with disabilities in disasters are increasingly being addressed through policies, standards and guidelines, much more needs to be done to remove the barriers to their inclusion in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and response.
Effective institutions with supportive attitudes, structures and systems, backed up by good evidence, are key to meaningful disability inclusion. Human rights-based approaches have the potential to lead to a major shift in institutional policy and practice towards disability.
Disability advocates and disabled people’s organisations can also play a significant role in disaster policy, planning and interventions, but formal disaster agencies tend to have limited interaction or collaboration with them.
This briefing note identifies five key challenges that need to be addressed in order to promote disability inclusion in DRR and humanitarian action, relating to evidence and data, contextual understanding, institutions and programmes, representation and discrimination. It highlights the importance of rights-based approaches, together with improved standards and indicators, in overcoming these challenges.
Homes built haphazardly among the pines, no evacuation plan, poorly organised emergency services hit hard by austerity: the deadly wildfires around Athens this week may have shocked Greece but few environment experts are surprised.
For forestry expert Nikos Bokaris, the region of Mati on Greece's Attic coast where one of the blazes began had all the ingredients for a disaster of this scale.
He said the congested nature of buildings set among pine trees, along with poor access to some properties, made a devastating forest fire nearly inevitable.
"The pines were old, very tall and wide, all the necessary fuel for the flames to swell and spread. That creates a huge thermal mass," Bokaris told AFP.
Greece has been experiencing a hot summer, and wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres-per-hour helped the fire swarm through the bone-dry forest at devastating speed.
Tsipras said the weather conditions had worsened the blaze, something which geographer and natural disaster expert Kostis Kalambokidis tentatively agreed with.
"We know full well that climate change is creating more and more extreme weather conditions," he said.
But weather, it bears pointing out, can be forecast.