Emergency response

Purna Maya sitting in her wheelchair outside her destroyed house.

Our impact last year

  • 93k people received emergency aid after disasters
  • 13k people trained in disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction
  • 28K helped after conflict and food crisis in Nigeria

When disasters strike, people with disabilities are often among the worst affected and the last to receive help.

They may miss out on warnings or information because they can’t see, hear or understand them. They may be unable to escape quickly from danger. And vital emergency aid like shelters or food distribution may be too far away, or difficult to access for a person with a disability.

CBM responds immediately to emergencies worldwide, providing life-saving aid to people with disabilities or injuries and working to rebuild lives and communities.

Disability and Disasters

When disaster strikes, people with disabilities are often among the most affected because:

  • they may be unable to escape;
  • they may struggle to access vital information or services;
  • they may be dependent on assistive devices damaged in the disaster or care-givers who are also struggling;
  • they may have difficulty accessing emergency help or living in temporary environments and they may be unable to access basic health services.

Emergency situations also often put people at greater risk of disability. For every person that dies during a disaster, it is estimated that three people sustain an injury, many causing long-term disabilities. Many people may also experience mental health problems, which can result in long term disability if they do not receive the support they need.

How we help

Immediately after a disaster strikes, our Emergency Response specialists and local partners work together to identify people with disabilities who have been affected and meet their immediate needs of food, water, shelter and healthcare.

After the initial emergency response, we remain in the affected area to support, plan and develop long-term programmes to help rebuild lives and communities into the future.

Being prepared saves lives, so CBM also works with communities and disabled people’s organisations to help ensure that people with disabilities are involved in planning an inclusive response if disasters strike.

CBM has over 100 years experience of providing relief and recovery for people living with or at risk of disability, at times of crisis. An important part of our work is training and supporting other organisations who provide emergency aid to make sure that disabled people are not excluded. As part of the Age and Disability Capacity Programme (ADCAP) consortium, we developed the ground-breaking Humanitarian Inclusion Standards for Older People and People with Disabilities and other resources. These standards help ensure that organisations providing humanitarian relief are more inclusive in their work, while CBM’s mobile app, the Humanitarian Hands-on Tool (HHOT), is a practical tool to help put the standards into practice.

In action

Huge expanse of bare mud showing where the side of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed

Emergency Response: Sierra Leone mudslides

Providing emergency supplies and support to people with disabilities affected by the Sierra Leone mudslides.

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HHOT App launch poster, with phones showing the app in use and instructions on how to use it.

Mobile app to help people with disabilities during emergencies

CBM’s Humanitarian Hands on Tool (HHOT) is a ground-breaking mobile app to help people with disabilities…

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Transforming lives

Purna Maya sitting in her wheelchair outside her destroyed house.

Purna Maya

A volunteer came to our house to ask about Purna Maya and the loss due to the earthquake. I was happy that some organisation had the time to think about disabled people…

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Rajendra who has polio slept outside his house for several days after the earthquake in Nepal afraid of more tremors.


“I somehow managed to crawl out of the house when I saw there was no one around… everyone had left for a safe, open place but me. I was the only one left behind.”

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Rajesh, on crutches, with his mother outside the shelter built by CBM's partner after the Nepal earthquake
5th Oct 2018

Disaster response mobile app is finalist in digital awards

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21st Jun 2018

Be prepared; advising on disability inclusion at SimEx disaster response exercise

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