**COVID-19 specific information**
Persons with disabilities often face barriers to access vital information about prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Organisations, government agencies and other actors involved in providing COVID-19 response and recovery often lack knowledge on how to make sure all information and response is inclusive of persons with disabilities. Therefore, actions to include persons with disabilities within needs assessments is a must.
Identification of women, men, girls and boys with disabilities is a key step to ensure a comprehensive needs assessment for the provision of disability-inclusive emergency services in humanitarian action. Make a commitment to include persons with disabilities from the beginning in community discussions, during exploratory activities and needs analysis and make sure that persons with disabilities and their families and assistants are included and supported to inform the assessment.
Inclusive rapid needs assessment is the rapid collection of information that takes place immediately after the onset of an emergency in order to understand the needs of the affected population and to decide on what type of response is required to safe lives and support basic needs.
Tips to make assessment inclusive of persons with disabilities:
- Sensitize field workers and volunteers on disability, age and gender.
- Avoid starting from zero: assess data from previous disasters or locally available data at administrative level. Was disability, age and gender mentioned and assessed, what were the needs? Make contact with local authorities to access these data (even if they are not completed): Departments of Health, Education, Social Welfare, or even the National Council for Human rights etc.
- Establish contacts with Disabled People's Organisation (DPOs) and disability and/or age specialist organisations to exchange data. They often have members organisations in other regions who can be contacted to better understand needs and identify capacities to engage in the response.
- If there is a lack of data on persons with disabilities, estimate that:
- 15% of the affected population may have some type of disability (physical, sensorial, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities ). Among them 50% are women and girls;
- Around 11,5% might be older people (60+);
- The number of children with disabilities can be calculated based on 10% of the population under 14 years of any given population;
- There will be some people that have been injured or exposed to trauma which may lead to disabilities, and persons with disabilities may experience distress or worsening of their health condition.
- Whenever possible, build assessment teams and response teams that include someone with disability experience, and where feasible, include persons with disabilities, men and women, in the team.
- Conduct group interviews with men, women and children with different types of disabilities across all ages (screening children and infants with disabilities is important to identify their needs). If this is not possible, interviewing key informants from local DPOs becomes a must.
- Make sure that males and females with disabilities have been consulted and involved in the assessment to determine their specific needs, priorities and concerns within the sector-specific programming. Remember that persons with disabilities, especially people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities may be hidden from public view and need to be specifically asked about, without doing harm.
- Disaggregate data according to sex, age and disability, but be careful with protection of personal data – always ask for consent and explain the use of data. Don't collect necessary data to which there is no possibility to respond.
- Observe the environment and contextualize your observations: are persons with disabilities and older people visible in the affected area? What seems to be the level of inclusion/exclusion, gender issues, status of persons with disabilities and older people etc.?
- Assess damages to services used by persons with disabilities and older people: educational facilities of all kinds, residential care or health institutions, rehabilitation centers, social services, support services, as well as organisations representing persons with disabilities (DPOs), etc.
- Ensure people residing in residential (often closed) institutions are not neglected or abandoned if staff are no longer available. Provide essential medications as a matter of urgency, e.g. for people with epilepsy, chronic disease, mental health conditions, or other.
- Take pictures of water points, food distribution points, hospital and other services in the area to analyse level of accessibility.
- With the participation of persons with disabilities, analyse data to identify potential barriers that could exist in the planned response, share your assessment results and use for influencing other partners or organisations involved in the response. Keep in mind the principle of protection when sharing data, particularly in conflict contexts.
- Has the disaster led to an increased number of people with impairments and disabilities? The response then needs to include plans for those that might be in need of referral to more specialized health services or psychosocial support.
Methods for collecting sex, age and disability disaggregated data are available (Sphere Handbook, Washington Group Questions) and should be incorporated as an accepted standard across the humanitarian clusters.
The Sphere Handbook recommends disaggregating data on age according to the following intervals: 0-5; 6-12; 13-17; 18-49; 50-59; 60-69; 70-79; and 80+.
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