Int Day for disaster reduction: Older people are resources for Resilience

Speakers call for reduce death toll among over-60s in disasters

Jamil Khan
SUKKUR: The HelpAge International and Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO) on Friday has jointly organized a discussion/ dialogue on Publication disaster resilience in an ageing world by DRR forum Jaccababad in the connection with International Day for Disaster Reduction in which the government officials line department, journalists, representative of INGOS/ NGOs and other stakeholders participated.
Speakers call for greater involvement of older people in disaster management efforts in the region.
Speaking the occasion, Programme Manager Help Age International Shahzado Khaskheli said that the objective of the day was to raise awareness about the importance of reducing the risks of disasters and the theme for observing this day in 2014 is ‘Ageing Population and Disasters’ because older people are amongst the vulnerable groups in the society, and this vulnerability becomes double or triple during emergency situations.
He said that it is important that our world is ageing and experiencing a demographic shift; the number of people over the age of 60 will be more than children under 14 by 2050
In 2012, people aged 60 or over represent almost 11.5 per cent of our total global population of 7 billion. By 2050, the proportion is projected to nearly double to 22 per cent, he added.
Mr Khaskehli said that there is strong evidence that older people suffer disproportionately from disasters even in developed countries.
He said that this year the focusing is on older people adding that it is vital to acknowledge them as a resource for resilience and ensure that they can take part in resilience building, he added.
Shahzado said although some progress has been achieved in enabling older persons to actively participate in society and in recognizing their contributions, there are still important challenges. He said that in spite of the growing recognition of the role of older persons in society, there is still a long way to go.
He said that most important is protection of rights of older people through legislation. In Pakistan, he adding that does not have any legislation for protection of rights of older people. Draft of Senior Citizen Bill is still pending to be presented in Sindh assembly, he maintained.
Head of the Disaster Management Preparing Cell (DPMC) and Focal Person SRSO, Help Age International Projects Dr Mansoor Ali said Pakistan is affected by different catastrophes which included natural disaster, violence and conflicts negative affecting people’s lives.
In the event of a disaster, vulnerability of vulnerable groups including older people increase manifolds, he said and added that disasters resulted in avoidable and disproportionate loss of life and impoverishment among older people, whose vulnerabilities and capacities are overlooked, even though they have the same rights as other age groups to protection from physical and psychological harm.
Dr Mansoor Ali said that with the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, countries around the world are realizing the importance of disaster preparedness and response planning and management.
On the occasion, Older People Associations of the district also emphasised on the need for community-based preparedness and raising awareness.
Assistant Director Agriculture Abdul Rasheed Chandio, Rafique Soomro and others also spoke on the occasion.