DISABILITY, CYCLONE IDAI AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: PREPAREDNESS OF AFRICAN COUNTRIES FOR DISABILITY-INCLUSIVE RESPONSES IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Keywords:COVID-19, Cyclone Idai, disability issues, emergency plans and preparations
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory disease which started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, to be a pandemic following a surge in case numbers in Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.1 In that same month, most African countries recorded their first COVID-19 cases.2 For Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, this was barely a year after another humanitarian emergency. In mid-March 2019, the four countries were hit by Cyclone Idai, a tropical storm that was characterised by heavy rains and flooding, which killed around 1 000 people and affected over 2 million people.3 Among those affected were people with disabilities. This comment provides an assessment of the extent to which disability issues were addressed in the four countries’ emergency plans and preparations for Cyclone Idai and a discussion of the lessons learnt which may be of relevance to the emergency response plans and preparations for COVID-19. The assessment will be made against relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (African Disability Protocol), which are discussed in the next section.