Persons with disabilities were excluded from the Africa climate talks

Ashura Michael is a gender, disability, public policy and social justice advocate.

It is unfortunate that African leaders are expecting to achieve an equitable future for Africa yet a certain group is missing.

Most of us can agree that the concluded Africa Climate Summit was a beautiful and noble event that brought the beauty of Africa together with diverse success stories and challenges. We congratulate the government of Kenya for hosting this great event.

However, there is no way we can keep the promise we made for Africa if one group is left behind.

Persons with disabilities both in Kenya and Africa feel excluded. There was no paper presented by or about persons with disabilities. Where are we? Why are we a second thought in every opportunity?

Youth, women, children, indigenous communities and even evangelical communities had the opportunity to present their declarations. Are they more vulnerable than persons with disabilities? Is this the Africa we want?

The president of Kenya and all African leaders should know that persons with disabilities are more likely to be left behind on climate change actions or abandoned during evacuation in disasters and conflicts due to a lack of preparation and planning, as well as inaccessible facilities and services and transportation systems.

Disruption to physical, social, economic, and environmental networks and support systems affect persons with disabilities much more than the general population. There is also a potential for discrimination on the basis of disability when resources are scarce.

Furthermore, the needs of persons with disabilities continue to be excluded over the more long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts, thus missing another opportunity to ensure that cities are accessible and inclusively resilient to future disasters.

In addition, we should understand that most women with disabilities are facing multiple discrimination. Our children and persons with disabilities are the individuals who are most affected and there is a need to make sure that alert technologies are accessible to them. They should also be involved in the decision-making processes. This is one of those few milestones that will support us to protect them from disaster risks.

Finally, a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable future is about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in climate change.

Disaster management response and recovery should be a vital part of achieving the pledge to leave no one behind and a critical test of the global commitments of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Sustainable Development, the Agenda for Humanity, Africa disability protocol and the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy.

There should be a commitment to achieve transformative and lasting change in disability inclusion and resilient societies for all.

A resilient Africa is impossible without persons with disabilities!

The writer, Ashura Michael, is a gender, disability, public policy and social justice advocate.