During the rescue and rehabilitation phases following the 2010 Pakistan floods, Sightsavers and its partners knew that certain groups of marginalised people, such as people with disabilities and older persons, would be at greater risk of neglect. In response to this, Sightsavers supported one of its partner organisations, STEP (a disabled persons’ organisation), to establish the Information Resource Center on Disability (IRCD) as a point for information sharing and dissemination for the two districts of Nowshera and Charsaddah.
This comprises a computerised database which is connected to STEP’s online web portal and linked with the central crisis centre of the Red Crescent Society of Pakistan. The database includes the national identity card number of every person with a disability on the database and can also provide a detailed profile, including the nature of their disability and their location, of the person and his or her family if required. The use of this database has proved very helpful for identification of people with disabilities and in providing a coordinated service for disseminating information to these people and their families regarding food distribution systems, medical outreach services, distribution of cash and food grants, cash-for-work programmes suitable for people with disabilities and so on.
STEP used the information received through the IRCD to provide technical advice to the WASH and Shelter clusters in terms of making their services more accessible for all – in particular for people with disabilities and older persons.
In the future STEP and Sightsavers will be able to utilise the IRCD as a resource centre for building the capacities of these people with disabilities, such as getting them organised in the form of Displaced Persons’ Organisations, making them aware of different career and educational opportunities and getting them connected with other relevant like-minded organisations working for promoting their rights. The ICRD is already enabling marginalised and vulnerable groups who cannot raise their voice during the aftermath of natural disasters and emergencies to be heard.
Niaz Ullah Khan (firstname.lastname@example.org) worked for SightSavers Pakistan country office (http://www.sightsavers.org) and is now CEO of SAIBER Foundation Pakistan.
See also FMR35 ‘Disability and displacement’