Connecting local responses around the world
I am a Fulbright Research Fellow working with the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) rights organization. The Blue Diamond Society (BDS) is working with USAID and other stakeholders in Nepal to ensure that Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and relief programs are sensitive to the vulnerabilities and needs of LGBTI people.
As part of my research, I am trying to help the organization advocate for high-level change in disaster risk reduction and relief programs as it relates to the treatment of LGBTI people, and also build the organization's capacity to react and assist in emergency situations, as hundreds of thousands of constituents will flock in need of support and supplies.
I wrote a brief article about this issue last fall, this research as well as evidence from other countries has shown that LGBTI people often face further marginalization during emergencies and suffer in the wake of disaster and emergencies due to discrimination, and lack of access to appropriate shelter, medical care, and toilets. The research also showed that little was being done to sensitize policies, protocols, and practices to the particular needs and vulnerabilities of this population.
Given this context, and extensive work being done on DRR in South Asia, we would like to seek assistance from members of Disaster Management Community India, India Civil Society, Solution Exchange Bhutan and the Constellation. Specifically, we would like members to share:
· Any experiences where the needs of LGBTI people have been addressed effectively within relief and/or DRR programmes, especially by local communities
· Reports and/or recommend literature on inclusive DRR/relief programs or any documentation of how LGBTI people have been treated in post-disaster and emergency situations by relief agencies.
We would also appreciate it if you could share the names and contact details for any individuals or organizations with experience working with LGBTI people and DM/DRR.
We hope the work we are doing in Nepal will save lives here, and serve as a model for what can be in other countries.
Kyle Knight, Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
[Due the relevance of this query, I am crossposting it on Constellation online community, India Civil Society http://indiacso.ning.com Solution Exchange Bhutan and Disaster Management Community India.]
Hi Kyle, here is the first response posted by Rafique at India Civil Society
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafiqueyesterday
Dear Kyle Knight,
Good to see that there is thought about the key populations in times before and after disaster strikes. Actually, the most effective part of any response to disaster is the one that is well tried and tested, and learnt before the disaster strikes.
Thus your query for experiences where the needs of LGBTI people have been addressed effectively within relief and/or DRR programmes, especially by local communities is good preparation, and therefore of utmost importance both to LGBT communities and those working for, with, and alongside them.
Accordingly, I came across a good video on You tube which is tailor made for this query and its prologue says:
"Before, during and after disasters, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people are often discriminated. Nonetheless, like other marginalised groups, LGBTs display significant capacities in facing hardship and frequently take a lead in responding to disasters. This presentation draws on evidences from an exploratory research in the Philippines and Indonesia". The video is embedded:
The link on You tube is:
The power point presentation of this video made by the University of Auckland is available at:
The presentations shows how the LGBT community have helped out to render much needed health and hygiene services to mainstream community, and makes a good case for society to help them too. Thus, we all have to prepare before hand along with those of key population and plan our responses, now itself.
Hope this helps.
My name is Alexis Erkert and I work for Other Worlds (http://otherworldsarepossible.org/) in Haiti.
Rituu forwarded your question to us. The promotion and protection of LGBT rights is really in its infancy here, even among human rights organizations. There is only one organization I know of in Haiti that is outspoken on LGBT rights, SEROvie. I can send a report from SEROvie and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on the post-earthquake experience of LGBT Haitians. Although it won't be an example of a post-disaster situation in which the needs of LGBT have been addressed effectively, it's the only documentation I'm aware of that treats this subject. There's an email address for SEROvie included in the report. The file size is too large for me to attach it here, but if you email me at alexis[dot]otherworlds[at]gmail[dot]com, I can pass it along.
All the best,
Here is a response from Disaster Management Community, Solution Exchange India. thanks!
LGBTI may be a smaller yet definitely a significant proportion of the society. We have to acknowledge their presence in the first. DRR activities must take into account their specialized needs. We can plan out specialized sessions of counseling for these group of people considering their mental vulnerability at the time of disasters. Identifying these high risk groups must be done at the time of as part of the preparedness activities and there must be a social watch group for the purpose of integrating them in the mainstream of the society especially at the time of disasters & its aftermath.
The post-disaster rehabilitation in most of the developing countries aim at rescuing people from disaster-affected areas to the safer sites for the purpose of providing intermediary shelter. The problem in these countries is that HIV is considered as a stigma and HIV Reproductive or Sexual Health Counselling and other services are done on a voluntary basis.
Again due to paucity of resources, most of the emergency activities are done centering round providing relief and shelter materials. Health aspects come later. However, I am not very sure if HIV counselling and management can be taken care off immediately following a disaster. Yet STI and HIV services are the most required activities which entail special attention if the people are staying in intermediary shelters for a longer duration of time. In this case, the identification of such affected population with history of STI is a must and this can be only done if the affected people are encouraged to break the silence.
Therefore, special provisions must be made for affected population in shelters like availability of ARV and STI medicines, clean syringes, and needles, condoms, as well as substitution drugs for IDU. Again the shelters must have IEC materials on Safe sex as well as Behaviour change components displayed at least if not available freely to take away. These small measures can increase the chance of mainstreaming HIV management in disaster management.
Rudra Prasanna Rath,
State Child Health Resource Centre,
A response sent by Solution Exchange, Bhutan
Dear Kyle Knight,
The Bhutanese are a tolerant lot and there is no overt discrimination against any minority groups including the LGBTI as far as I know. However, I am also not aware of any special LGBTI sensitive DRR relief programme in place. In fact this has not come out in any of the DRR discussions as far as I know. I am one of the Civil Society representatives on the steering committee for a regional project on MSM, but have been finding it extremely difficult to engage with the LGBTI local community as there is still reservation on discussing these issues openly and there is no visible organised community to begin with.
Under the given scenario, your query is timely and should be yet another parameter added to ensure that the DRR relief programmes are made as inclusive as possible. The Department of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs could be accordingly sensitized. I do not think there is any information available as of now.
Appreciated Md. Rafique's post and the u-tube link.
Chime Paden Wangdi Tarayana Foundation,
Response from Solution Exchange India. Thanks.
I would like to share three documents which may be of use:
· Study for Lesbian- ftp://ftp.solutionexchange.net.in/public/drm/cr/res20011202.doc
· A Summary of the findings of the Hijras and TGs Behaviour Study from Tricity (Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, Kharar)- ftp://ftp.solutionexchange.net.in/public/drm/cr/res20011203.doc
· A Summary of the findings of the Jigiloos .Behaviour Study from Tricity (Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali, Kharar)- ftp://ftp.solutionexchange.net.in/public/drm/cr/res20011204.doc
Response from Disaster Management community, Solution Exchange, India
LGBTI matter needs special attention in the context of increasing urbanization and the globalized atmosphere also changed the whole scenario of Urban life drastically. Policy level advocacy is required to a larger degree & simultaneously all the civil socity organisations need to be sensitive enough on the matter so that greater acceptability / Legitimacy could be developed in the ground level by which special attention could be given to the LGBTI during DRR or Disaster time. In DRR, specific area-wise requirement so far as LGBTI is concerned need to be adopted by which gradual assimilation of the LGBTI into the mainstream or changing the attitude / behavior pattern of the populace could be carried out smoothly. At the same time the policy of Gradualism to be adopted so far as LGBTI is concerned.
Indian Redcross Society,
Yet another response from Disaster management community, Solution Exchange, India
LGBTI community in the world is vulnerable and because of many reasons they still not getting equal rights and facilities everywhere. Now, in the context of disaster relief, the main objective of the relief work becomes to save a life, without any discrimination. However, LGBTI community may be affected and may not be able to get proper relief work.
Infact, almost all states have made the disaster relief programs that is common for all. But at the time, when it comes to legal documentation of partners, allotment of rest rooms, medical needs etc, these programs cannot handle the cases of LGBTI community due to unavailability of proper documentation to address their needs.
As per my suggestion, there should be a separate document to clarify the issues of this community, but it is also necessary that the community itself should start making such documents and then demand their requirements with the disaster management department of their state.
Hi Kyle, response sent by Solution Exchange Bhutan but all the way from Canada!
Dear Kyle and others,
It seems to me that the question of vulnerabilities in the context of Disaster Relief and Risk Reduction is widely recognized but little understood. Your work Kyle can add something important to this discussion by looking at the vulnerabilities of a population (LBGTI) rarely considered in mainstream DR-RR strategies. Good luck with this.
One approach to the question of vulnerabilities in the context of DR-RR would be to assess risk and preparedness from the point of view of different populations (women/men; young/old; LBGTI). For example, risk can be seen as a function of the degree of severity of a particular problem encountered in a phase of the DR-RR cycle (example, looting), and the probability of the particular problem occurring. A third variable determining the level of risk is the capacity to cope with or prepare to deal with the particular problem (through community policing, formal policing, etc in the case of the looting risk).
We have developed a tool to engage people in discussion of particular risks encountered during the various phases of disaster relief (the disaster cycle). It uses a Cartesean graph for two of the variables (severity and probability) and a color code for the third variable (coping or preparedness).
To uncover vulnerabilities, the question is, ”do different groups perceive/experience different levels of severity and/or probability with respect to the particular problem encountered, and are they differentially prepared to cope? If the assessment is the same for two groups (based on evidence provide and peoples' reasoning) then there are no vulnerabilities between these groups. If the assessment is different, then this would suggest some different in level or element of vulnerability.
I am just returning from testing this method in the Philippines context, and will share the result in due time. For general information on our approach, see www.participatoryactionresearch.net.
I work for an organisation called Samaj Unnayan Kendra in West Bengal (http://samajuk.org). We work with communities in 24 Parganas with some fishermen families, marginal farmers & landless agriculture labourers which live near the river and face frequent floods.
A cyclone Aila hit West Bengal in May 2009 flooding villages and forcing thousands of people from their homes. We work with communities affected by this cyclone and help build their skills and equip them with disaster preparedness. We have never concentrated on the aspect of LGBT. However, after this cyclone I have observed that many families due to economic reasons send their young boys to assit fishermen. These boys are away for long period and often face sexual exploitation. So, disaster relief programmes must cater to lifeskills of young men and find them meaningful involvement.
Samaj Unnayan Kendra,
Here are responses from Disaster Management community, Solution Exchange, India. Thanks to the moderator Nupur for sharing.
Sarwat Hussain Naqvi, CG State Aids Control Society (CGSACS), Raipur
I would like to appreciate the fact that this is the area which yet to be explored. In my previous organization we used to work on disaster risk reduction and relief however as far as I know as it relates to the treatment of LGBTI people we did not had any specific plan or guideline even from sphere protocol. Many of us consider LGBTI amongst most at risk population including women and children I never come across that anybody is talking about Third Gender as most marginalized segment of the society for DM/DRR package of services or locating them for prioritization even otherwise also LGBTI is a hidden and most oppressed population so we really need to prioritized them in order to maintain social justice and realization of Rights of LGBTI.
Pempa N. Sherpa, DRM Cell, South Sikkim.
This is Pempa from Sikkim and I like share few words with you. Well this is regarding gender equality that one part of our programmes' objective. In my opinion we need to incorporate these points in the very first phase of our programme at all levels. In the recent quakes we too faced the similar difficulties while relief and rescue operation was launched in the post-quake. It will be easier if we could have detail data base prepared separately for these communities while preparing response plan in pre-disaster period.
Nabeel M. K., University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
Good to see your work and query on an often overlooked topic.
I am from India, currently at the University of Toronto's Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) under a fellowship program of the Fogarty International Center. Through the Canadian Program of Research on Ethics in a Pandemic (CanPREP),JCB has done considerable work in the area of emergency preparedness.Learnings from this project could be of interest to policy makers at different levels of governance and is helpful to inform emergency planning efforts. One of the critical components of emergency preparedness inCanPREP was to actively engage the voice of public in the planning process. Accordingly, different groups and subsections of the population took part in the process through diverse methods including surveys, focus group discussions, and theatre. While there were several researchers and collaborators involved in the project, for this aspect of the project I suggest you to contact Dr.Jennifer L. Gibson(firstname.lastname@example.org) who is the Director, Partnerships and Strategy, at the JCB.
Let me also add a word of caution. While the current focus of your research is a great and apt starting point, I would suggest that gradually the focus must be more on vulnerability factors and circumstances rather than “vulnerable populations”. This is especially important once the research starts feeding into program planning and implementation. From previous experiences, and those shared by others, pre-categorizing people into groups have some limitations. One, it excludes many who may not fit in the inclusion criteria or who do not wish to publicly identify with these names of groups. Second, we might end up attributing generalised characteristics to members in these groups and we know how uncomfortable it is for individuals.
By restricting our focus on vulnerable populations as opposed to a broader outlook on vulnerability factors and circumstances, there is an impending paradox: one where we could miss out on certain people and at the same time including lot others in a way that can dilute our focus on specific vulnerabilities. There is a potential for an over-protecting andpaternalising attitude, which is not what the communities need. As you would agree, theLGBTI or LGBTQI communities are diverse and have unique characteristics and issues. Hence, while planning participatory DRR and related exercises, we need to acknowledge and factor these diversities and dynamics from the community point of view.
Let me share some other resources. I am sure you might have come across the work of Rainbow World Fund (RBF) and Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters (CARD).
· Rainbow World Fund (RBF)
· Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters (CARD)
Other scholarly resources which might be useful:
1. Hufschmidt, G. (2011). A comparative analysis of several vulnerability concepts. Natural Hazards, 58(2), 621-643. doi:10.1007/s11069-011-9823-7
2. Eisenman, D. P., Glik, D., Gonzalez, L., Maranon, R., Zhou, Q., Tseng, C., & Asch, S. M. (2009). Improving Latino disaster preparedness using social networks. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6), 512-517. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.07.022
3. Grace, A., & Wells, K. (2007). UsingFreirean pedagogy of just IRE to inform critical social learning in arts-informed community education for sexual minorities. Adult Education Quarterly, 57(2), 95-114. doi:10.1177/0741713606294539
4. Tierney, K. J. (1999). Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, gender and the sociology of disasters, edited by Walter Gillis Peacock, Betty Hearn Morrow, and Hugh Gladwin. The American Journal of Sociology, 104(5), 1557-1559.
5. Always, J. (1998). Back to normal: Gender and disaster. Symbolic Interaction, 21(2), 175-195.
6. West, D. M. (2007). Race, gender, and communications in natural disasters. Policy Studies Journal, 35(4), 569-586.
My sincere wishes in your efforts in building an inclusive approach in DRR planning where every member of the community is resilient and ready.
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