THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the first state to launch training for disabled people in disaster risk reduction (DRR) management two years ago, Kerala now plays a lead role in strengthening emergency response capabilities of people with disabilities (PwD). Initially, 3,000 disabled people will be trained in DRR using Braille, sign language, video and audio format. Later, it will be extended to all people with disabilities (nearly 8 lakh) in the state.
The national disaster management authority (NDMA) is expected to prepare the national guideline for PWD in DRR management in six months , taking a cue from the Kerala state disaster management authority’s (KSDMA) handbook on disability and DRR.

“KSDMA had initially launched the DRR training for disabled on May 11, 2016 in the state capital with the first set of Braille brochures. Now, KSDMA is set to train 3,000 disabled people in the state as part of strengthening their emergency response capabilities. The Daisy software application used for training is easy to follow. This all inclusive format developed in eight months with the support of National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) would help all PwD,” KSDMA state project officer Joe John George said.
Two years ago, the then minister for revenue and disaster management Adoor Prakash had indicated the need for training the disabled in DRR. Following that the KSDMA member secretary Sekhar Kuriakose had told KSDMA state project officer to prepare the concept note and based on that a proposal was drafted, which was approved by the state. Then a state-level consultative meet was organized with a resource person from UNDP and working with Handicap International’s Kalika Mohapatra and an expert on disabilities, Chandrasekharan. A follow-up meet was held with experts in June 2016 after which KSDMA released the handbook on disability and DRR.

“We had submitted the handbook to NDMA. Kerala was also the first state to conduct a door-to-door survey to identify the people with disabilities and had identified over 7.93 lakh disabled people with 22 types of disabilities. Of which, we had broadly classified four types of disabilities visually impaired, speech & hearing impaired, physically challenged and intellectually impaired for training them in DRR,” George said.

The disabled are more vulnerable and they are trained in basic disaster management skills such as first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation with a mannequin. Methods for rescue of physically- impaired persons on a wheel-chair in case of an earthquake either with the support of a friend or by themselves are also part of the training.

A four-day long training programme for PwD in Idukki, Kottayam and Thrissur districts were completed and the programme will be extended to other districts by July-end, said an official.