The Inquiry into

Disability and Development

In 2014, disability has been at the top of the UK parliamentary agenda. Earlier this year a Special Committee has questioned 16 expert witnesses as part of an overall inquiry on Disability and Development.

The challenge for Disability and Development

Disabled people, so far, have been pretty much excluded by international development policies. Development programmes around the world have built schools, supported people living in poverty, and provided first aid to those struck by war, famines, or other emergencies. They’ve done amazing work in lifting people’s lives, but often forgetting about disabled people, leaving them behind.

As stated by this article by the Huffington Post:

The link between extreme poverty and disability is clear, and the government must acknowledge that without addressing the needs of disabled people they are preventing some of the poorest people in the world benefiting from international development.

Even the Millennium Development Goals, which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015, did not mention disability.

ADD International and other NGOs, are committed to change this.

The inquiry on Disability and Development: a summary

ADD International was called to be among the expert witnesses of this inquiry on Disability and Development.

In the first session, MPs heard from disabled activists from India, Kenya and the Middle East and learned about AusAid’s disability strategy (Australia’s department for international development, similar to DFID UK).

The second session the Committee heard from development organisations working with disabled people, including Wateraid, Handicap International, and ADD International’s Chief Executive Tim Wainwright. Here’s some of the tweets during the session:

@TimWainwright: good to have specialist agencies on the ground in humanitarian crises, but all actors need to be disability-inclusive.

— CommonsIDC (@CommonsIDC) January 21, 2014

Disability inclusion shouldn't be an option, it should be a requirement of DFID funding. @barbarafrost @CommonsIDC

— ADD International (@adduk) January 21, 2014

.@WainwrightTim: lack of action on disability partly due to omission of disability from #MDGs. UN CRPD also not well known @CommonsIDC

— Sightsavers Policy (@Sightsavers_Pol) January 21, 2014

.@WainwrightTim: lack of action on disability partly due to omission of disability from #MDGs. UN CRPD also not well known @CommonsIDC

— Sightsavers Policy (@Sightsavers_Pol) January 21, 2014

The Committee then spoke to academics, who specialise in disability and development. They highlighted the challenge of collecting quality data on disability. In other words, in the past, the lack of data about disability in the developing countries – including how many people are disabled – has meant that problems couldn’t be confined and therefore addressed.

But today we have the knowledge and technology to change this.

Finally, last week, the Committee questioned Amina Mohammed from the UN and representatives of the UK Department for International Development. DFID made it clear that their priority is to make sure that the new Post-2015 development goals include disability and that targets are to be considered met if they have been reached for all social groups, including disabled people.

Putting disability on the International Development agenda

The UK Government is already one of the major funders of international aid. We hope it will also become world leader in disability-inclusive development, that this inquiry will result in a greater inclusion of disability issues in development projects, and that DFID will play an important role to make sure policies of inclusion are implemented globally.

Links and resources

Putting disability on the agenda

UK Parliament at sunset

Campaigning for equality