Dr. Sari, Champion of Inclusion in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response


Jakarta, Indonesianpost.com – Dr. Sari Mutia Timur (48), a dedicated doctor and advocate for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the healthcare sector, has been making waves with her inclusive approach to involving the elderly and people with disabilities (PWDs) in disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts.

Dr. Sari has long observed that the elderly and PWDs are often left behind and neglected in disaster response. One of the main issues is the lack of attention to accessibility for these groups during disasters. Many evacuation locations and shelters do not consider their specific needs, making it difficult for them to reach evacuation points and receive dignified assistance.

“For example, during the Merapi eruption in 2010, evacuations were conducted using trucks, which posed significant challenges for the elderly, as they had to be carried and pushed. It was an inhumane situation. Moreover, in the shelters, the needs of the elderly and PWDs were often overlooked, despite their different requirements compared to other evacuees,” she stated.

Therefore, dr. Sari advocates involving the elderly and PWDs in disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts. Along with the Yakkum Emergency Unit (YEU), she has empowered the elderly and PWDs with knowledge about disaster risk reduction and provided training to help them voice their needs more effectively.

“We train them to voice their needs so that they can provide valuable input for a more inclusive disaster response,” she added.

In addition, dr. Sari ensures that the elderly and PWDs are integrated into the monitoring and evaluation process. They are given opportunities to provide safe and comfortable feedback, ensuring the assistance is accurate and effective.

In various disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) collaborates with dr. Sari involves the elderly and PWDs, especially women, to ensure that their needs, including those of the elderly and disabled, are considered to promote a more gender-responsive approach.

Dr. Sari emphasizes that elderly and disabled women face double challenges. They are often not included in crucial meetings and decisions.

“During meetings, such as the MUSREMBANG, elderly and disabled women are either not invited or not given the opportunity to speak. Consequently, many of their needs are not communicated, such as the difficulties they face in accessing toilets, which are often poorly lit and riskier for them,” dr. Sari said.

In practice, dr. Sari has illustrated several successful examples involving the elderly and PWDs. They are included in the emergency response team and empowered elderly individuals are made peers to motivate others. Moreover, the application of inclusive rapid need assessments helps identify the needs and challenges faced by the elderly and PWDs.

At the global level, this issue is gaining more significant attention. During a speech at a United Nations meeting in the UN Headquarters in New York, USA, in 2019, dr. Sari boldly stated that involving the elderly and PWDs is not only to prevent them from becoming vulnerable groups but also because their experiences and capacities can provide valuable contributions to enhancing disaster response.

“Involving the elderly and PWDs in disaster risk reduction and emergency response brings great benefits for everyone. With inclusive program designs, improved accessibility, and active participation from all groups, disaster response can become more comprehensive and better,” she added.

Dr. Sari has shown extraordinary dedication to promoting the inclusion of the elderly and PWDs in disaster risk reduction. Her role as a doctor and DRR advocate opens the door for positive change and better disaster response for all groups, without exception. Through her initiatives, disaster response becomes more inclusive and accessible for everyone, helping to create a safer world ready to face disaster risks.

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