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DFID's work on disability inquiry launched

19 December 2018

The International Development Committee is holding an inquiry into the Department for International Development's (DFID) work on disability.


Disability inclusion is a relatively new strand of work for DFID. Following the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, the Department began to focus on disability inclusion in 2014 (following a previous IDC inquiry) with the launch of its disability framework. Disability has since been “mainstreamed” across the Department's work, with DFID reporting 22% of its programmes to be addressing disability in some form as of May 2018. However, the mainstreaming approach (where disability is incorporated in other programmes rather than being a strand of its own) makes it difficult to ascertain precisely how much the Department is spending on disability.

2018 Global Disability Summit

In July 2018, DFID co-hosted a Global Disability Summit with the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance. The summit focused on tackling stigma and discrimination; inclusive education; routes to economic empowerment; and harnessing technology and innovation. DFID announced several new initiatives at the summit, including:

  • a new global partnership on assistive technology – “AT Scale” – to transform access to and affordability of life-changing devices and basic technology, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses; this would be aimed at reaching 500 million people globally by 2030 by bringing organisations together to share data and consider how best to tackle issues of innovation, affordability and availability, work that would benefit disabled people in the UK and overseas
  • a new innovative programme – UK Aid Connect – led by charities Sightsavers and Leonard Cheshire Disability, which will work with organisations within small communities to support disabled people into jobs in the developing world
  • a new six-year programme to design ways to help 100,000 disabled people to access health services, 10,000 disabled children to access education, and up to 45,000 disabled people to increase their incomes; this programme will also help to improve policy-making in the UK
  • an increase in DFID's work with businesses around the globe, supporting disabled people as employers, employees and consumers
  • a World Bank-hosted ‘Inclusive Education Initiative', assisting countries to strengthen disability-inclusive education planning, implementation, and monitoring of learning outcomes for children with disabilities by supporting and encouraging partnerships, promoting data collection, investing in teachers, and aggregating evidence of practice and solutions at scale.

DFID's new disability strategy

Following the summit, in December 2018, DFID published a new strategy for disability-inclusive development. This includes four ‘strategic pillars' for action: inclusive education, social protection, economic empowerment and humanitarian action. The strategy also identifies three cross-cutting issues (tackling stigma and discrimination; supporting girls and women with disabilities; and harnessing access to technology and innovation) and includes a focus on mental health.

Scope of the inquiry

The International Development Committee invites written submissions on all aspects of this topic, and is particularly interested in the following:

  • Does DFID's new disability strategy provide an adequate framework for approaching disability-inclusive development?
  • Is DFID spending enough on disability?
  • Is DFID's consideration of disability inclusion sufficient across its programmes?
  • How effectively is DFID tackling the gaps in knowledge and data relating to disability identified by ICAI in its recent review?
  • Has DFID encouraged and facilitated the participation pf people with disabilities, and relevant advocacy groups, in developing its strategy and approach?
  • How effective was DFID in supporting its country offices to deliver the 2015 Disability Framework? How can support to country offices be improved upon in rolling out the new strategy at a country level?
  • How effectively are other ODA-spending departments ensuring that their ODA expenditure is inclusive of people with disabilities?
  • Were the commitments made at the Global Disability Summit (by DFID and others), including the launch of the new Inclusive Education Initiative, sufficient?
  • How effectively is DFID implementing its commitments from the Global Disability Summit? How can DFID best be held accountable?
  • What role should the UK play on disability inclusion within the global humanitarian and development community?
  • Are there particular safeguarding issues within disability inclusion that should be prioritised by DFID's work tackling sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector?
  • Is DFID learning effectively from other approaches and global work on disability inclusion?

Written submissions

The deadline for written submissions is Friday 22 February 2019. The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. We encourage members of under-represented groups to submit written evidence.

The Committee considers requests for reasonable adjustments to its usual arrangements for taking evidence and publishing material, to enhance access. Please contact or telephone 0207 219 1223.

Written evidence submitted should:

Have a one page summary at the front
Be no longer than 3000 words in length
Have numbered paragraphs
Avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material

Further information

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