Emergency response

Purna Maya sitting in her wheelchair outside her destroyed house.

Our impact last year

  • 97k people received emergency aid after disasters
  • 10k people trained in disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction
  • 12K helped after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti

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.

In action

Ebola – life-saving information for people with disabilities

The deadly outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa left over 10,000 people dead. In Sierra Leone, the…

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Emergency response: Nepal earthquake

On 25th April 2015, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, leaving over 8,000 dead and many thousands more injured or…

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Including older and disabled people in emergency response

People with disabilities often find it difficult to access help at times of emergency, such as floods, earthquakes or…

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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, 27, with crutches, stands in front of corrugated iron shelter with his mother, who is smiling at him
8th Feb 2018

New guidance will help humanitarian organisations include people with disabilities

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René, who is blind, with a CBM aid worker visiting the remains of his house, destroyed in the hurricane.
18th May 2017

Including people with disabilities after disasters – putting commitments into action

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