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Mainstreaming disability inclusion across DFID's work is welcome but progress must continue

30 July 2019

In a report published today, the International Development Committee has welcomed the Department for International Development's recent work on mainstreaming disability inclusion but urges continued effort.

Committee conclusions

The Committee supports the Department for International Development's Strategy for Disability Inclusive Development, published last year, as a critical step in boosting disability inclusion. Alongside the Global Disability Summit held last summer, it has provided a new focus on how disability issues are addressed in the aid sector and received widespread support from stakeholders over the course of the inquiry.

While early progress has been good, much work still remains to be done. The Strategy will need to prove its value by removing barriers in every facet of life for disabled people in developing countries, including education, employment and access to health and justice. It should develop innovative programmes, ensure provision of affordable assistive technology, and seek to end stigma.

The Department for International Development should maintain its focus on embedding disability inclusion as a key element of designing and implementing all aid programmes alongside dedicated projects focusing on specific disability issues. Future strategy must be informed by a stronger evidence base and aim towards more ambitious targets. Robust accountability mechanisms, including systems of regular reporting, should be put in place so that delivery can be better assessed. It should align with and complement global strategies to combat poverty and improve disability-inclusive development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the recent UN Disability Inclusion Strategy.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“It is pleasing that the Government has reacted positively to this agenda - and to previous recommendations from us - and developed a strategy for disability inclusion that has the potential to make a real difference. By instilling disability awareness as a central facet of all aid strategy, alongside dedicated programmes, a concerted effort can be made to deliver against the ‘no one left behind' challenge.

This is far from job done however and it is crucial that DFID see this as the first step in a long-term process. The challenges it seeks to address are complex, and can vary significantly from nation to nation, so it must develop strategies from a solid evidence base that clearly demonstrates how varying approaches perform.

The programmes and solutions that are developed should address every facet of life, not simply removing barriers but supporting people with disabilities to thrive. It should enable every child to go to school, every adult to participate in economic and social life.

The International Development Committee will be watching the progress of this crucial work closely to see if reality matches ambition.”

Key findings

  • The twin track approach of mainstreaming disability inclusion across DFID's work, alongside dedicated funding for disability-specific projects is the correct approach. DFID should build on the good start they have made by scaling up spending on targeted projects, while further embedding disability inclusion in broader strategy and budgeting.
  • Removing barriers to education should be a key priority. DFID must create a framework to ensure programmes correctly identify the specific challenges in each host nation and provide the technical guidance to deliver education projects that address them. National governments should be encouraged to plan and budget for disability inclusion in their own education programmes.
  • Disability should not be an obstacle to participation in economic and social life. DFID should gather more evidence on the impact of the focus on poverty reduction in social protection programmes. They should ensure that projects are not inadvertently causing discrimination in areas such as access to services or employment, despite having an overall positive impact. DFID should work with governments and stakeholders to fund and support the inclusion of people with disabilities in existing social protection schemes, facilitated by the provision of training or enabling technologies.
  • The disability inclusion aims DFID sets out to achieve in development programmes should be demonstrated in its own work. They must ensure diversity at all levels among their staffing and through their supply chain. People with disabilities should be assisted in overcoming skills gaps or accessibility issues that may prevent them accessing jobs, and private contractors incentivised for implementing similar strategies.
  • DFID should work with national governments and media to address stigma and discrimination across all policy areas, legislation and in the justice system. Work should focus on shifting the view of disabled people away from being seen as victims in need of help and towards one of being active agents in society.
  • DFID should work closely with national governments to give high priority to mental health, and on protecting the rights of people with mental health and psychosocial disabilities in areas like employment, health, and the legal system.

Further information

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