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Australian Journal of Emergency Management

This edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management focuses on disaster management and disaster recovery, with articles particularly on disaster management for vulnerable groups including children, the deaf community and people with physical disabilities.

Disability inclusion and disaster risk reduction: overcoming barriers to progress

Disasters have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, who are at higher risk of death, injury and loss of property. Although the rights and needs of people with disabilities in disasters are increasingly being addressed through policies, standards and guidelines, much more needs to be done to remove the barriers to their inclusion in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and response.

Effective institutions with supportive attitudes, structures and systems, backed up by good evidence, are key to meaningful disability inclusion. Human rights-based approaches have the potential to lead to a major shift in institutional policy and practice towards disability.

Disability advocates and disabled people’s organisations can also play a significant role in disaster policy, planning and interventions, but formal disaster agencies tend to have limited interaction or collaboration with them.

This briefing note identifies five key challenges that need to be addressed in order to promote disability inclusion in DRR and humanitarian action, relating to evidence and data, contextual understanding, institutions and programmes, representation and discrimination. It highlights the importance of rights-based approaches, together with improved standards and indicators, in overcoming these challenges.

Greek fires a tragedy, but not a suprise

Homes built haphazardly among the pines, no evacuation plan, poorly organised emergency services hit hard by austerity: the deadly wildfires around Athens this week may have shocked Greece but few environment experts are surprised.

At least 79 people perished in the infernos that broke out on Monday evening, and questions are being asked of the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over how it could let the tragedy occur.

For forestry expert Nikos Bokaris, the region of Mati on Greece's Attic coast where one of the blazes began had all the ingredients for a disaster of this scale.

He said the congested nature of buildings set among pine trees, along with poor access to some properties, made a devastating forest  nearly inevitable.

"The pines were old, very tall and wide, all the necessary fuel for the flames to swell and spread. That creates a huge thermal mass," Bokaris told AFP.

Greece has been experiencing a hot summer, and wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres-per-hour helped the fire swarm through the bone-dry forest at devastating speed.

Tsipras said the  had worsened the blaze, something which geographer and natural disaster expert Kostis Kalambokidis tentatively agreed with.

"We know full well that climate change is creating more and more ," he said.

But weather, it bears pointing out, can be forecast.

Assessment of the State of Hydrological Services in Developing Countries

The pursuit of sustainable development and climate adaptation is increasing the demand for weather, climate, and water information and services to help protect lives and livelihoods from hydrometeorological hazards and optimize weather sensitive sectoral production. The core business of hydrological services is the provision of information about the water cycle and the status and trends of a country’s water resources. Most typically, this focuses on assessing water resources, including drought monitoring and outlooks and flood forecasting and warnings.

National climate change vulnerability and risk assessments in Europe, 2018

This report provides the first systematic review of national climate change impact, vulnerability and risk (CCIV) assessments across Europe. It is based on information and reflections reported from and authorised by EEA member countries on assessments that are multi-sectoral and cover the whole country. The purpose of the report is to share experiences and knowledge and to highlight approaches and practical solutions that countries have used to produce and present their assessments. The report does not attempt to evaluate or rank existing CCIV assessments; neither does it suggest that there is a one size-fits-all approach for national CCIV assessments. Rather, it has identified lessons learned and makes suggestions for further developing CCIV assessments in the future. The intention is to provide a  source of inspiration and knowledge for countries that will support the planning and implementation of adaptation to climate change in Europe.