As an effort to advance the inclusive disaster risk reduction agenda, our Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) project, “Putting Persons with Disabilities at the Centre of Humanitarian Preparedness and Response”, has been jointly implemented by four organisations specialised in disability inclusion: Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), Centre for Disability in Development (CDD), Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM), Malteser International (MI), and International Disability Alliance (IDA).
This project is a global collaboration to strengthen the capacity of national and local actors to manage and reduce disaster risk, especially in eight disaster-prone countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Niger, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Colombia, and Nicaragua.
We caught up with Tareq Mohammed Momtazur Rahaman, the Project Manager of DiDRR Project at the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD), to better understand what CDD has been implementing in Bangladesh, especially its works in improving disability inclusion in disaster risk reduction.
For readers who might be unfamiliar with CDD, can you introduce us to your organisation?
The Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) is a non-profit making and non-government organisation that has worked in partnership with a network of over 350 organisations both nationally and internationally to mainstream and include persons with disabilities since 1996. In 2010, our founding Executive Director, A.H.M Noman Khan, had the prestigious honour of being awarded the international Ramon Magsaysay Award for his pioneering leadership and dedication to building a truly inclusive and barrier-free society.
Our vision is to create an inclusive world where all persons with disabilities live with dignity. Meanwhile, our mission is to contribute to creating a sustainable, inclusive environment where persons with disabilities are meaningfully participating in the mainstream development process on an equal basis with others.
What does CDD work on?
CDD works to create a sustainable, inclusive environment for the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in mainstream development activities.
We work with our partner organisations and provide technical support to develop skills and human resources to influencing government and non-government entities to create an inclusive society. Specifically in this project, we have been working on these aspects:
Create an inclusive model for the DiDRR
Provide technical supports for disability mainstreaming and inclusion to the partners and relevant stakeholders
Provide capacity building and training on disability-specific issues, virtual and/or in person, to the partner organisations and stakeholders.
What motivates you?
We are driven by our goal to achieve meaningful participation of persons with disabilities as a part of inclusion. Whenever we see persons with disabilities participating meaningfully and create impact in the mainstream development process, it inspires us. We are also motivated by the value of "dignified life leading", it is the leadership of the persons with disabilities in which they lead their lives in the society with dignity. Lastly, we are inspired to mainstream the equal development process. The smiles on the faces of persons with disabilities, who fight for their equal rights and benefits, inspire CDD to keep working for and with persons with disabilities.
How big is your team?
Our team consists of total 245 persons right now. There are 180 males and 65 females, and among them, there are 24 persons with disabilities.
How many of the CDD staff are working on this project?
Seven team members are working in this project including project supervisor. The designations of the team members are Project Supervisor, Project Manager, Advocacy, Documentation and CB Officer, Field Coordinator, Community Facilitator, Project Accountant, and Support Staff.
Why did CDD decide to be a part of the DiDRR Consortium Project?
We would like to strengthen the movement to include persons with disabilities locally, nationally and globally. At the same time, we always want to create a model for the mainstreaming and inclusion of persons with disabilities in different contexts, that can be replicated further by the government and/or NGOs. This project will help us present the local and national level inclusion mechanisms at the global level that will be impactful worldwide.
Moreover, persons with disabilities usually face different barriers in their various spheres of life. They experience exclusion in the DRR and humanitarian responses; even the early warning information usually does not reach them properly. They don’t get the opportunity to participate in the DRR planning and implementing process. They are deprived of enjoying their rights, and the community do not have a good understanding of disability inclusion. As we have experienced working on DiDRR sector, we would like to explore our DiDRR and inclusive humanitarian practices with the other partner organisations as much as possible to ensure an inclusive world. This project is a great opportunity. The project partner organisations are also well-resourced, so we can exchange our learning with them.
Where are you currently in the implementation of the project?
Our project start-up month was May 2021, but we eventually got approval in August 2021, considering the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now in the initial phase of this project and continuing project activities following multiple work modalities, one was conducted in person, and another was online.
We have completed primary communication with the Local Government and even had a one-to-one meeting.
Local Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) have engaged in our project activities.
Self-help Groups of Persons with Disabilities (SHGs) have been reformed, and continuing their monthly meetings.
We established a good rapport with Ward Disaster Management Committee (WDMC), and they are continuing their monthly meeting.
What challenges are you currently facing in terms of project implementation?
This project got approval from NGO Affairs Bureau Bangladesh a bit later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are still experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and frequently adapting the revised project plan to consider the changing situation, and to keep all line activities on the right track and complete project activities within each project year.
What's next for you?
We are going to start disability mapping and arrange a project inception program. We also start community awareness events on accessible WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and organise two batches of training on IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
We will also start the promotion and orientation events for the OPDs and persons with disabilities on inclusive feedback and response mechanisms and the Humanitarian Hands-on Tool (HHoT).
What are you doing particularly well so far?
Networking and engagement with stakeholders at the local and national levels, while documenting these processes.
The process of establishing rapport with local stakeholders, including the OPDs, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), Project Implementation Officer (PIO), District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer (DRRO), is going well.
The translation of IASC Guidelines into Bangla is almost finished, and training module development will start very soon.
We also supported the reformation of 3 SHGs and continued arranging the SHG & WDMC meetings regularly.
What are you looking forward to?
We are looking forward to learning from consortium partners and exchanging our learning with them to ensure meaningful participation.
Apart from this, we are looking forward to implementing all activities and properly utilising the project funds for the project beneficiaries capacities building, strengthening and their inclusion in DiDRR and humanitarian response.