ARCHIVED: Appendix 2: Building a Global Framework to Address the Needs and Contributions of Older People in Emergencies – Lessons learned from previous emergency situations and disasters


Lessons Learned from Previous Emergency Situations and Disasters

A number of lessons from past emergency situations and disaster experiences served to inform discussions and the identification of priorities for action within the Winnipeg Workshop.  These key lessons are identified below.

  1. A long-term perspective-and investment-is required to reduce the vulnerability of older people in crises and to strengthen their capacities and resiliency following emergencies and throughout life. This requires the adoption of a comprehensive population health and health promotion approach that fosters active and healthy ageing.
  2. Older people face a double protection dilemma: they make significant social, economic, cultural and spiritual contributions to their families, communities and society but they have their own specific vulnerabilities and protection needs that often go unrecognized and unmet in emergencies.
  3. Older people's visibility and inclusion in times of crisis must be enhanced.  Seniors need to be involved as participants in all stages of emergency management and their needs and contributions fully and deliberately incorporated.
  4. Consistent with the life course perspective on active and healthy ageing, good planning and design for seniors is good for people of all ages.  This applies to the policies and practices that influence the social, environmental and economic environments that shape people's lives as well as to the policies and practices that shape the physical environment within which people live, work, play and worship.
  5. Ageing issues need to be systematically integrated into all policies and programming.  This calls for an integrated, inter-generational approach to emergency management that acknowledges the relationship between different age groups and their mutual support strategies.  At the same time, some changes are required in how services are designed and delivered and certain ageing-specific policies, programmes and practices will always be required to incorporate the particular needs and contributions of older people in emergencies.
  6. A larger, more equitable proportion of practical and financial resources should be allocated explicitly to support work with older people involved in emergency situations.
  7. The impacts of discrimination and human rights, social justice, poverty and other marginalizing conditions need to be recognized when addressing seniors and emergency preparedness and response. Concerted action to address the underlying social and economic impacts of these conditions on people's health is a prerequisite to successful and sustainable rehabilitation and recovery for vulnerable people and for their communities.
  8. No one organization or agency can possibly take on responsibility for emergency management on its own. Partnerships among governments, humanitarian organizations, other civil society NGOs, business, the media, academics and researchers, as well as good coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders are critical to achieving a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach.
  9. To a large extent, emergency preparedness is a community effort: emergencies occur when the local systems that normally provide people goods, services, and caring relationships break down and are unable to respond.  Thus, it is important to build emergency preparedness efforts in a participatory, bottom-up fashion.
  10. It is important to translate the wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience of individuals and communities that has been acquired in emergency situations into lessons learned and practical tools and resources that are readily available and relevant to the needs of responders, other service professionals, NGOs, and seniors themselves. Policies and programmes at the global, regional, and national levels need to facilitate and support the development and use of these human and other resources.
  11. Seniors' and other community-based organizations play a critical role in the direct prevention, protection, recovery and rehabilitation of older people in emergency situations. As well, they can play an equally important advocacy role in mobilizing awareness, action and support for seniors in emergencies.
  12. There is a need for qualitative and quantitative information, data, and research to guide ongoing work on seniors and emergency preparedness. This includes the need to develop more precise age and gender data to identify better vulnerable seniors and to prioritize needs and contributions; to develop indicators to point to best practices and to assess progress; and to build evidence-based policies and programmes to respond to outstanding gaps in humanitarian interventions.
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