By Rachel Trayner
© Benjamin Schillings/ HelpAge International
A new study by HelpAge International and Handicap International has found a significant disparity between the needs of older people and people with disabilities, and the level of humanitarian assistance delivered to meet their needs. The report shows that less than 1% of humanitarian aid targets older people or people with disabilities.
11% of the world's population is aged 60 and above, while an estimated 15% of people live with disability. However, analysis of over 6,000 projects from 14 UN Consolidated Appeal Processes (CAP) and four Flash Appeals between 2010 and 2011 shows that:
- Only 61 funded projects (1%) target older people or people with disabilities.
- In 21 countries, no projects in any sector target older people. This includes Chad, Central African Republic and 16 countries in West Africa.
- Funding for projects targeting people with disabilities decreased between 2010 and 2011 (from 0.7% to 0.43%).
Systematic failure to assist the most vulnerable
Older people and people with disabilities face specific challenges in humanitarian crises. For example, challenges related to mobility, access to services such as healthcare, and reestablishing livelihoods.
If active steps are not taken, the needs of these highly vulnerable groups will remain unmet. Humanitarian actors must integrate the specific needs of these groups into responses and provide targeted interventions where necessary.
Frances Stevenson, Head of Emergencies at HelpAge said: "This research shows there is a serious problem in the international humanitarian system. Humanitarian aid agencies systematically fail to assist the most vulnerable people.
"Older people and people with disabilities can be particularly vulnerable in crises and disasters and they have specific needs, but time and again their needs are not being properly assessed, analysed or incorporated in responses."
Response must target excluded individuals
Jean-Pierre Delomier, Head of Emergencies at Handicap International added: "At the time of a crisis, NGOs should pay particular attention to targeting the most vulnerable as they have the greatest difficulties accessing humanitarian assistance. It is what we aim to do for these most excluded individuals, by covering both their basic and specific needs."