On 19 August, World Humanitarian Day, overseas disability charity CBM will launch the “Humanitarian Hands-on Tool” (HHOT), a vital and innovative new mobile app that will help ensure that disabled people can access life-saving relief services during emergencies.

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK, said:

“When disasters strike, people with disabilities are often among the worst affected and the last to receive help. With a distinct lack of practical advice on disability in disaster scenarios, and with 1 in 7 individuals living with some form of disability worldwide – 80% of them in developing countries – a large number of people are missing out on life-saving relief services like food, shelter or other support.”

This custom mobile app, developed with Cambridge-based digital agency Studio 24, provides practical, step-by-step guidance that emergency workers can access freely and easily to ensure that the help they provide, such as emergency shelters or food and water points are accessible to people with disabilities or other marginalised groups.

The whole app (which is fully accessible) can be downloaded to any mobile device and is then available without internet or mobile connection. It updates automatically on reconnection and input and feedback is invited from users to ensure the tool grows while staying focused, relevant and up-to-date.

The content is fully searchable and simple to navigate, grouped into topics such as nutrition, logistics and camp management, allowing field workers to quickly find “task cards” relevant to their current situation. The result is a concrete solution for field workers to facilitate inclusion of disabled people in emergency response.

A pilot version of HHOT was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016; since then CBM has consulted widely about the app with humanitarian and disabled people’s organisations and incorporated their feedback ready for this final launch on 19 August 2017.

Zoe Hopkins from global humanitarian aid agency Mercy Corps, took part in one of the consultation sessions and explains how the app could help Mercy Corps in its work:

“It is very important to understand how to adapt our common emergency responses to be more disability inclusive. Interactive use of the HHOT tool revealed many practical ways of adapting all sectors of emergencies, from quick wins such as appropriate signage in a camp, to more participatory approaches of ensuring disabled people’s organisations are present at Cluster meetings. It has also made NGOs such as Mercy Corps aware of the need to engage much more with specialised NGOs such as CBM in order to build a common understanding of disability inclusion before, during and after emergencies.”

Further work will continue on the tool, including translation of the guidance into other languages (it is currently available only in English) and extending the content to cover mental health and inclusive disaster risk reduction.

Access to the app and download it to any mobile device at: www.cbm.org/hhot