People with disability are disproportionately impacted by disaster events. They are two to four times more likely to die in a disaster, experience higher risk of injury and loss of property, have greater difficulty evacuating, sheltering, and require more intensive health and social services during and after disaster. While these impacts stem from a range of factors that increase the vulnerability of people with disability to disaster, a significant barrier to the safety and well-being of people with disability is their absence from emergency management practice and policy formulation. In 2014, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recognized this as a universal challenge. Global Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) initiatives and policy advocacy has helped to advance the incorporation of accessibility, inclusion, and universal design principles into the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015–2030. DIDRR requires shared responsibility of multiple stakeholders working together to identify and remove barriers that increase risk for people with disability before, during, and after disaster. Yet, governments and emergency personnel are faced with the intractable problem of how to develop shared responsibility between local government, emergency personnel, people with disability, and the services that support them. Methods, tools, and programmatic guidance are needed to ensure that people with disability and their support needs are at the center of emergency management. The Person-Centered Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) framework and process tool offers a new approach for enacting DIDRR; shifting emphasis to preparedness by people with disability in partnership with emergency personnel. The P-CEP was developed through a co-design process involving multiple stakeholders, including people with disability and their support networks. Grounded in the Capability Approach, the P-CEP integrates factors that facilitate personal emergency preparedness together with principles of person-centered planning to enable emergency managers to learn about the preparedness, capabilities, and support needs of people with disability and work together with people and the services that support them toward the development of local community-level DIDRR. The P-CEP takes an all-hazards approach by incorporating self-assessment and tailored preparedness planning for disasters triggered by natural hazard events and other emergencies (e.g., house fire, pandemic). The P-CEP has three components: (a) a capability framework consisting of eight elements to support self-assessment of strengths and support needs; (b) principles guiding the joint effort of multiple stakeholders to enable tailored emergency preparedness planning; and (c) four process steps enabling the developmental progression of preparedness actions and facilitating linkages between people with disability, their support services, and emergency personnel. The P-CEP is being used to advance individual and shared responsibilities for DIDRR in Australian communities through the incremental development of awareness about and responsiveness to the support needs that people with disability have in emergencies. Future research will apply P-CEP to the design of programs and services that: (a) increase the emergency preparedness of people with disability; and (b) ensure that information about the extra supports that people with disability need in emergencies is included in the design of disability-inclusive emergency planning.
Disability-Inclusive Emergency Planning: Person-Centered Emergency Preparedness
Post-Disaster Recovery and Social Capital
Suzanne Vallance and Ashley Rudkevitch
Disaster scholarship has resurrected interest in social capital, and it has become well established that strong social ties—bonding capital—can also help individuals and communities to survive in times of crisis, as well as provide substantial and wide-ranging benefits on the long road to recovery. The theoretical tripartite of bonding capital generated in “close ties,” bridging capital developed through “associations,” and linking capital from possibly cool but nonetheless “civil” encounters is also reasonably well established. So too are the currencies of trust and reciprocity. Social capital is noted to be a potent resource capable of facilitating many benefits in terms of health and well-being, and it is considered fundamental to post-disaster attempts to Build Back Better in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Indeed, the idea of social capital has become almost synonymous with resilience. Nonetheless, it is also acknowledged that there may be disadvantages associated with social capital, such as tribalism, neoptism, and marginalization. Scholarship therefore paints a rather complex picture, and there is still considerable debate about what social capital is: what it does, where it comes from and where it goes, and for what purpose. Without denying the value of a celebratory approach that focuses on the benefits, it is concluded that there is a need for more attention to be given to the broader ideological contexts that may shape the generative and distributional effects of social capital, particularly as these underscore health and well-being outcomes post-disaster.
Urban Health and Disaster Resilience
David Sanderson, Ronak Patel, and Kelsey Gleason
As cities and towns across the world continue to grow to accommodate most of the world’s population increase, so too are they increasingly and often disproportionately exposed to the threat of natural hazards—including those worsened by climate change—such as floods, earthquakes, windstorms, and fires. Efforts that aim to enhance and safeguard urban health are those that seek to build the resilience of people and systems before, during, and after disasters. Yet where these efforts fail or fail to exist, components of vulnerability and urban diversity inform disaster risk. Taking a systems approach is especially essential to recognize the interconnected, complex, and dynamic issues that include and impact on the spectrum of urban health.
Community Resilience and Earthquakes: The Role of Neighborhood—A Case Study From Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand
It is well recognized that preexisting social connections and networks help people adapt and provide for more positive outcomes in the aftermath of a disaster. The role of place, of local neighborhood, in helping people to adapt and manage through the difficult times is developing. Neighborhood, the place where people live, can help facilitate the important informal response to disasters—where residents come together and provide mutual support. Features such as well-defined geography, intimate streets, walkable access to social infrastructure and natural spaces, and central meeting places all help to build the social connections that foster community resilience. Another important element is the community-focused groups that are already in place, especially ones with people who know their areas and who to support. Community resilience is a consequence of having good social connections, with social infrastructure helping to facilitate those connections; these are the same social and physical characteristics of neighborhoods that influence local health and well-being. The main message is that it is possible to develop urban environments in a way that provides multiple benefits. Social connections make people happier and healthier; they can learn from village life that can improve their future living environments, ones that are healthy and resilient. A vibrant well-connected neighborhood community with walkable access to natural spaces, to local shops and schools, and to places for locals to gather is healthy, self-reliant, and more resilient.
Child Development, Major Disruptive Events—Public Health Implications
Tracy Vaillancourt and Peter Szatmari
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly all the safeguarding systems in the lives of children and youth, such as family life, school, extracurricular activities, sports, unstructured social opportunities, health care, and church. With many of the typical promotive and protective factors disrupted all at once, and for so long, the mental health of children and youth has deteriorated in many areas, but not all, and for many children and youth, but not all. It is important to acknowledge, however, that the mental health of children and youth was in crisis before the pandemic, with 1 in 7 children and youth worldwide having a mental disorder. Given the continued decline in this area of health, children and youth may well be on the cusp of a “generational catastrophe” that could involve lasting harms if immediate action is not taken. Of particular concern are marginalized and vulnerable children and youth—they are the ones unduly enduring the brunt of this global crisis. Accordingly, child and youth mental health recovery must be prioritized, along with the reduction of inequity within and across countries. A commitment to public health strategies that never include harming children and youth as a tolerated side effect must also be made.