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On 13 October, CBM celebrates International Day for Disaster Reduction. Before this date, we are highlighting stories from the DiDRR network's publication 'Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Management'. This week, we want you to meet Kazol, a young women from Bangladesh, ready for the next floods in her village.
Kazol is a young woman living in one of the villages in Sreepur United, Bangladesh. She is also a wheelchair user after an accident severed her spinal cord. In a prize-winning video made by End the cycle/CBM, she tells about her role on the disaster management committee, making sure persons with disabilities are not forgotten when disaster strikes.
As a member of a community level Ward Disaster Management Committee in the rural flood prone area where she lives, she is an excellent example of transformation from exclusion to inclusion. From being someone who considered herself a burden to all, she has become a contributing member of her family and community, and from always remaining silent and confined to her house she now travels worldwide advocating for disability inclusive disaster risk reduction. From experiencing disempowerment Kazol now feels empowered.
Kazol is one of the active beneficiaries of a project called ‘Disability inclusive Flood Preparedness’. This project is implemented by CBM, the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) and Gona Unnayan Kendra (GUK). In Bangladesh there are platforms for many others like Kazol to employ their strength to support their community in preparing for floods.
Our partner CDD met Kazol again in September 2013 and shares their interview with CBM:
CDD: How have you contributed to prepare your village against floods?
Kazol: I have shared my knowledge with my community: I have highlighted the importance of storing dry food, having a movable stove, safeguarding important documents, storing emergency medicine, raising the plinth of the house, latrine and tube-well above the flood water level. If there is flooding, children, elderly people, pregnant mothers, women and persons with disability should get priority in rescue operations. I make sure everyone knows there is an accessible boat that can be used for this operation. I also shared about early warning signs that should be understood by all, including persons with disabilities: there are some pillars installed at our community to observe the flood water level from which they can take decisions when to move to the shelter or a safe place, and save their life!
CDD: How did you become so active in disaster preparedness?
Kazol: After my accident, I used to stay within the house. I had lost all confidence and led a life of seclusion. A field worker from the local organisation came to my house and asked my brother and I if we would be interested to attend a training course on disaster preparedness.
For example, when I learned from the training and orientation meetings that DiDRR initiatives will help persons with disabilities like me, I thought I should get involved!
CDD What advice would you give to other community members?
Kazol: All human beings are different. Persons with disabilities might be different from persons without disabilities. This is just a part of human diversity. We should respect this diversity. Everyone has some strength and everyone can contribute in some way. We should not immediately jump to the conclusion that a person with disability is dependent on others. All need to realize that we might be different but we too can contribute if given the opportunity in an inclusive environment.
CDD What advice would you give to other people with disabilities?
Kazol: Don’t accept defeat just because you have a disability. We need to demonstrate that persons with disabilities - if given the opportunity - can also contribute to flood preparedness just like any other member of the community.
Do you think your disability has in any way been also your strength to prepare your village against floods?
Kazol: Yes, I was able to contribute: due to my disability I have always been forced to seek out alternative ways of accomplishing a task. This is why we can all bring different solutions, save our lives, save the lives of everyone in the community, regardless their ability!
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