Using Washington Group Questions on Disability in DRR for the first time in Nepal

From 26 March to 4 April 2017, ASB Nepal carried out a baseline survey for the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) project was carried out in total of 456 households Dolakha and Nuwakot, using Washington Group Questions on Disability in DRR for the first time in Nepal.

Active involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the entire survey processes contributed highy to the successful roll-out of the baseline.
Image: ASB Nepal

The survey team comprised of 42 well-trained and highly motivated volunteers from the local communities of Kumari VDC, Nuwakot and Charikot, Dolakha including 25 women and 5 people with functioning limitations. The enumerators worked in pairs on a rotational basis while collecting the field data.

Sign language and care persons

Sign language interpretation was also arranged where required, in coordination with the District Deaf Association to equally involve persons with hearing difficulties. In cases where the respondents could not communicate in sign language, carers were interviewed.

Active involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the entire survey processes contributed highy to the successful roll-out of the baseline. The survey preliminary findings revealed the need for increased community outreach including in areas such as DRR and safety messages for all segments of society, access to information regarding social services as well as adult literacy programs also focusing on teaching sign language interpretation and Braille to persons with functioning limitations.

Lessons learned and good practice

The project team will keep on providing updates on the lessons learned and good practices from the project as well as readily extend technical support and expertise to any interested DRR and development stakeholders for making their initiatives more inclusive.

One of the unique features of the baseline survey has been the use of the Washington Group Questions on functioning limitation instead of defining different types of disability from the point of view of health community.

The ability to 'function' applies to us all. Our ability to function varies between individuals and context and over time; for example, as we grow older we may find it harder to carry out everyday tasks. Functioning can be thought of as what an individual is able to do in a particular environment. If we apply the above thinking to defining disability, we arrive at the following definition: Disability = functioning limitation x environment

Helpful definition of disability

We have found the above definition of disability to be helpful, as understanding functioning can help us better assess, and respond to, the risks that an individual may face. In turn, a better understanding of the risks that individuals face provides a better understanding of the overall risk, or risk profile, of a community.

The Washington Group Questions, and the concept of functioning that the questions are based upon, are a useful addition to the DRR practitioner or policy maker's tools. The questions can help us better assess, respond to, and promote inclusive risk management. Through sharing our experiences we hope to promote wider adoption of the Washington Group Questions by the DRR stakeholders as well as wider development actors in Nepal. We also hope this will contribute towards building common understandings of the relationship between disability and disaster risk within the DRR community.


Image: ASB Nepal

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