September 1, 2023

Introduction to FHI 360

  1. FHI 360 is a global nonprofit organisation, headquartered in the United States, with more than 50 years of experience developing bold solutions to global challenges and creating measurable results through data-driven insights and application of scientific breakthroughs. Our staff of over 4,000 experts work in more than 60 countries around the world. We listen to, learn from and work with communities to advance social and economic equity, improve health and well-being, respond to crises, and strengthen community resilience. We are deeply committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and are dedicated to disability inclusion in our organisation and programmes. In 2021, we were a co-recipient of InterAction’s Disability Inclusion Award.
  2. We currently serve as an implementing partner on three programmes funded by the U.K. Government.
    1. We are a subcontractor to DAI on the Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE) project (2021–28), funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
    2. We are an implementing partner to the U.K. Government’s Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Mott MacDonald for the Fleming Fund Country Grants for Nepal (2018–23) and Viet Nam (2019–24).
      1. In Nepal, the programme aims to strengthen the capacity of human resources, laboratories, and surveillance systems for antimicrobial resistance (AMR), antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial consumption (AMC) in the human, animal, food, and environment sectors through a One Health approach.
      2. In Viet Nam, the programme aims to address critical gaps in the surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, strengthening surveillance systems for AMR and AMU in both the human and animal sectors.
    3. FHI 360 has also been chosen as one of 100 organisations that are eligible to bid on projects issued by the U.K. Government through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), managed by FCDO.
  3. FHI 360 is submitting this evidence on FCDO’s Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy 2022 to 2030 to the U.K. Parliament’s International Development Committee (IDC) as part of our organisational commitment to advance disability inclusion in the global development and humanitarian sectors. Providing evidence on the strategy to the IDC aligns with the commitments we made at the 2022 Global Disability Summit, including one on advancing disability assessments in development programmes and broader advocacy efforts. We are also an active member of the International Disability and Development Consortium and serve on a committee devoted to equitable partnerships with organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) and a committee on safeguarding solutions in solidarity with disabled women, girls, and people of all genders.

Lessons Learned from FHI 360’s Work

  1. We are working towards our Global Disability Summit 2022 commitments and learning along the way. Some of the key lessons we have learned from our programmes centre on safeguarding, partnerships with OPDs, budgeting, social behaviour change and DEI.


  1. The PLANE project works to create a more inclusive and effective basic education system in Nigeria by addressing governance bottlenecks to improve education service delivery and the use of data and evidence within the education system. Through our experience with PLANE, we have learned about the importance of conducting an intersectional analysis at the beginning of a project. An intersectional analysis should consider gender, equity, and social inclusion (GESI); disability inclusion; and safeguarding planning. Such an analysis allows for more effective creation and application of action plans and cultural appropriate tools and helps ensure that that no child is left behind and no harm is done. For PLANE, FHI 360 developed a GESI and safeguarding toolkit as a practical, accessible compendium of documents to promote disability inclusion, ensure gender equality, and create and strengthen safe, gender-responsive education systems across all three implementation areas.


Partnerships with OPDs

  1. FHI 360 has learned that we need to better differentiate between and understand types of OPDs and adapt partnership structures, tools, and funding streams accordingly. Large, regional disability networks like the ASEAN Disability Forum are often better positioned to lead large global or regional projects and have different strengths and goals than national umbrella federations of OPDs or smaller, community-based OPDs. Our partners are educating us on the need to build relationships slowly, early, and strategically.


  1. We have also learned that if we want to honour our disability inclusion commitments, we must be more thorough and expansive with our budgeting processes. We must allow more time for co-design, ensure that budgets are rightsized for OPD partners and include separate budget lines for reasonable accommodations whenever possible.

Social Behaviour Change

  1. Cultural norms and social stigmatisation are some of the largest barriers to advancing disability inclusion, and they can be best addressed when local partners employ social behaviour change (SBC) strategies and communication campaigns. We are working to apply SBC techniques from sexual and reproductive health programming into other sectors, in collaboration with OPD partners, to help reduce social restrictions, especially on the ability of girls and women with disabilities to participate in and lead education and economic empowerment programmes.


  1. FHI 360 is also expanding from promoting disability awareness to employing more sensitive, transformative approaches through our DEI work. Global surveys that help illuminate the true experiences of employees with disabilities have been eye-opening and helped propel us towards greater action. We have also asked different employees with disabilities to co-lead organisation-wide DEI councils to help ensure that disability inclusion is front and centre. This has had a positive effect not only on our DEI action planning but also on our partnership development and programme design.

FHI 360’s Analysis of FCDO’s Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy 2022 to 2030

  1. In 2022, FCDO created a progressive Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy 2022 to 2030 (Disability Strategy, hereinafter) that reflects a person-centred and human rights-based approach to disability inclusion. The Disability Strategy is underpinned by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, achieved through engagement with OPDs, focused on intersectionality and designed with an effective twin-track approach. It is a strong planning tool for implementation of the UK’s 18 Global Disability Summit commitments made in 2022. It is also a significant contribution to the larger global development community and a model for other government foreign aid offices. Here are additional highlights in the Disability Strategy that FHI 360 especially appreciates.
    1. Commitment to collect and analyse disability disaggregated data where possible.
    2. Promotion of data disaggregation through new e-learning on how to use the Washington Group Questions in humanitarian settings.
    3. Utilisation of a transformation continuum to promote disability inclusion.
    4. Promotion of clear accountability structures through FCDO’s new Programme Operating Framework, governance boards, and support mechanisms through the community of practice and Disability Inclusion Helpdesk Facility.
    5. Commitment to being a Disability Confident Employer to embed disability inclusion within FCDO’s leadership and internal culture.
    6. Improvement in the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH) in all programmes, with specific attention to safeguarding women and girls with disabilities.
    7. Commitment to the “Leave no one behind” principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to better addressing the needs of people with disabilities who are often marginalised, such as those with intellectual disabilities.
    8. Focus on leaving no women or girls with disabilities behind.
    9. Highlighting linkages with the International Women and Girls Strategy 20232030 (International Women and Girls Strategy, hereinafter).


FHI 360’s Recommendations to FCDO and the U.K. Government

  1. FCDO’s Disability Strategy is an excellent model and resource for the global development and humanitarian community. The following are areas where the strategy could be strengthened to help respond effectively to current global trends, crises, and opportunities.
  2. Consider defining “disability” and addressing specific priorities for certain groups of people with disabilities, such as people with intellectual, learning, or sensory disabilities.
  3. Consider adding Universal Design (UD) and Universal Design in Learning (UDL) principles into all intervention areas. FCDO has already identified the importance of UD in infrastructure projects connected to economic empowerment, but UD could also be incorporated into other sectors to support more accessible training spaces, schools, health centres and beyond. In addition, focusing on UDL could help improve learning, professional development and capacity strengthening processes in ways that are more accessible for children, young people, and adults with disabilities. UD and UDL could also help support greater sustainability in FCDO’s development contributions.
  4. Focus on a wider range of reasonable accommodations. FHI 360 welcomes the Disability Strategy’s focus on assistive technology. We and many of our partners believe that supporting a broader spectrum of reasonable accommodations and accessibility for people living with disabilities will help FCDO better achieve its goals. This could begin with encouraging stakeholders, implementing partners, governments, school systems, and private sector employers to directly consult with people with disabilities and OPDs to ensure that they have access to a broad spectrum of reasonable accommodations. Examples of reasonable accommodations that are not necessarily associated with assistive technologies include sign language interpretation for humanitarian assistance participants who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, accessible materials such as books in braille for learners who are blind or low vision, simplification of informational materials for patients with intellectual disabilities and additional time allotment for interview processes or professional trainings for workers with learning or physical disabilities. In addition, reasonable accommodations must be integrated into all FCDO programme budgets and planning processes, and implementers would benefit from specific guidelines on how to advance reasonable accommodations.
  5. Strengthen the equity focus on OPDs, as well as their assets and procurement. The Disability Strategy already prioritises investment in and collaboration with OPDs in very significant ways. Yet much of the language still focuses on the need to help OPDs and strengthen their capacity, conveying a deficit mindset. There is a unique opportunity moving forward for FCDO to talk about and approach its commitments to OPDs with an asset-based mindset. FCDO can shift its language to highlight the great strengths, assets and movement building that OPDs have led across countries and regions while still emphasising the budgeting and capacity strengthening needs that OPDs express. FCDO can work to ensure that OPDs’ movement building is better understood and prioritised as well as address power imbalances in partnerships with OPDs.
  6. OPDs must also lead the way in co-design, implementation, and evaluation with the help of more rightsized budgets and engagement strategies tailored to geographical levels (for example, national, regional and community levels). They can also help FCDO create more differentiated strategies for engaging people with different types of disabilities. One step FCDO could take towards this endeavour would be to establish a database to track and publish how much aid is going to what types of disability organisations and movements and how those OPDs are achieving results.
  7. Prioritise the most historically excluded groups of people with disabilities. The Disability Strategy actively encourages the inclusion of people with disabilities in all their diversity, supporting the most marginalised and underrepresented groups. One such group is women and girls with disabilities. The Disability Strategy offers an opportunity for giving more guidance on how FCDO and implementing partners can prioritise women and girls with disabilities in alignment with the U.K.’s International Women and Girls Strategy. This could include not only supporting and listening to the voices of women’s and women with disabilities’ organisations, as FCDO commits to do, but also ensuring that their organisations – as well as organizations representing both disability and LGBTQI+ rights – have critical leadership roles in FCDO advisory councils; larger budgets in consortiums; and participate in gender and risk analyses, gender integration and safeguarding plans, monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems, and impact evaluations.
  8. Directly address what FCDO and implementing partners can do to help reduce the increased risks of gender-based violence (GBV) and SEAH faced by women, girls and people of all gender identities living with disabilities. For example, being proactive in partnering, design and MEL approaches is crucial to mitigating those risks. The Disability Strategy should also clearly establish its connection to the priorities of ending GBV and SEAH outlined in the International Women and Girls Strategy.
  9. Give guidance on how FCDO and implementing partners can support disability disaggregated data. FCDO has made an important commitment through the Inclusive Data Charter Action Plan to disaggregate data by disability through more systematic application of the Washington Group Questions. This is an excellent aspiration but difficult for implementing partners to do. FCDO could create more specific guidance to help orient its own staff and implementers on what is needed to disaggregate data using the Washington Group Questions, including how to create indicators, budgets, timelines, and effective ways to collaborate with OPDs. This will help make the collection, analysis and reporting of disability disaggregated data more widely used. 
  10. Focus efforts on working with OPDs on disability assessments country by country to educate government ministries, school boards, health care systems, employers, and communities on the broader definition of disability and how to safely and anonymously determine if programme participants have a disability. Considering how many countries have relatively low reporting rates and may be limiting census data to physical disabilities only, expanding awareness of different types of disabilities would be an enormous contribution in the larger global context. It would also be helpful for FCDO to publicly share its own disability disaggregated datasets with the public, allowing consultations before it submits the results of its 2025 Spending Review.
  11. Set specific safeguarding goals in partnership with OPDs and women’s, girls’ and LGBTQI+ rights organisations. The Disability Strategy should identify clearer solutions and outcome targets, in line with the International Women and Girls Strategy, to advance more detailed safeguarding approaches for different groups of people with disabilities. In addition, we recommend that FCDO use SBC strategies and communication campaigns, including ones that promote positive masculinity models in partnership with different OPDs and rights organisations, to affect enduring, lasting change on reducing the GBV and SEAH of people with disabilities of different gender identities.
  12. Strengthen the “Inclusive Economic Empowerment” section by focusing more on:
    1. Decent work standards set by the International Labour Union.
    2. People with disabilities’ access to vocational trainings and markets, as well as their inclusion in larger unions, business associations or farmers’ networks.
    3. Digital accessibility, literacy, and ways to combat technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

Impact of Budget Cuts on Disability Inclusion

  1. FHI 360 agrees with the IDC’s recent assessment that programme budget cuts often have ripple effects that directly affect disability inclusion efforts. We have found that cuts to programme budgets can inadvertently reduce our ability to partner with OPDs, provide reasonable accommodations, or perform more thorough assessments to identify barriers to and opportunities for people with disabilities’ participation in and leadership across activities. Moreover, because supporting the recruitment, retention, and professional development of employees with certain disabilities can sometimes require more organisational resources, reduced budgets limit the ability of FCDO’s implementing partners to ensure that they are rising to the Disability Confident Employer standards that the U.K. Government seeks.
  2. FHI 360 would like to thank the International Development Committee for this opportunity to share evidence on the FCDO Disability and Rights Strategy. Please feel free to email our Director of Business Development in our London office, Stephen Brady (sbrady@fhi360.org), with any additional questions or requests.