CONSPICUOUS INVISIBILITY in Disaster Risk Reduction
Type of content
Background: People with very high body mass (extreme obesity) have been left behind in disasters (Gray, 2017). However, disaster risk reduction (DRR) considerations are not visible in literature to understand risk, adaptive capacities and concerns (Gray & MacDonald, 2016).
Method: Semi-structured interviews with up to 20 people who have extreme obesity in Aotearoa about their experiences in disasters, plans and preparedness. Interviews are audio recorded, transcribed, coded and thematically analysed.
Results: Initial analysis suggests size, shape, weight and age of participants in this study are no proxy for health, mobility or preparedness status. There were shared concerns regarding assistance requirements in the event of a fall or becoming trapped. Other themes relate to replacement clothing, evacuation centre facilities, and the expectation that emergency management will plan and be prepared for their particular needs in the community. Other than routine General Practice visits, participants felt their DRR needs associated with high body mass would not be flagged with any health agency and less mobile participants were unclear if they were registered ‘disabled’ with any agencies. Discussion: Earlier research found some emergency managers, planners and responders (EMs) felt that health agencies would advise specific needs of people with extreme obesity, yet this research suggests that cannot not be assumed. Other EMs questioned the need to consider this population and yet participants did feel their EMs should have some knowledge and have planned for their needs. Such mis-alignment needs further exploration given the high levels of extreme obesity in Aotearoa (MoH, 2017).