Having access to basic services is one thing, and having an ‘able-body’ to use those services is another in terms of those living with disabilities. For instance, in developing countries, roads are the main gateway for vital services to reach the rural townships and villages; though the importance of it is mainly based on its use by vehicles, forgetting that in most rural settings, walking is the most used mode of transportation.
Very few road projects seek community consultations in terms of the actual impact it will have on the different types of people who will depend on it. For ‘people living with disabilities’ (PLWD) in Papua New Guinea, even though roads are vital, it is also dangerous – and apart from facing discrimination, they are also faced with barriers that disadvantage them from equally participating in the community.
Not only are PLWDs disadvantaged when it comes to basic services, but they also become powerless in terms of responding to disasters and emergencies.
PNG, since launching its National Policy on Disability in 2015, a gradual progress has eventuated.
For the first time, Babaka Village, a village on the outskirts of Port Moresby held a disability-inclusive training. The main purpose of the training was to ensure community members with disabilities were effectively supported in times of disasters and emergencies.
Implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC), the training was made possible by the European Union through their Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) regional programme.
The training will be supported by a provincial standard database that will store information on people with disability so it can be shared with other agencies at times of critical need.
“In a disaster-prone country like Papua New Guinea, training and awareness is key to promote understanding that people with disability must be adequately supported during disaster, to ensure the safety and resilience of entire communities and the environments in which they live. Ensuring that all parts of the community are included in effective disaster resilience is not only a fundamental human right but it can also go a long way to mitigate climate change related issues,“ said the European Union Ambassador to PNG, H.E. Ioannis Giogkarakis-Argyropoulos.
The training aims to increase inclusion of the disability community into provincial development planning and budget, and to establish a Provincial Coordination Committee on Disability – who will continue to carry out the trainings in other village communities.
“Data survey collection is essential for people with disabilities and working in partnership with line agencies to provide essential services is critical. Ensuring people with disabilities are meaningfully included in all programmes, including disaster preparedness and response to ensure more lives are protected during these crisis situations, will assist the government to budget well and concentrate on areas or locations where persons with disabilities will be affected,” stated the Secretary of the Department of Community Development and Religion, Anna Solomon.
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