DfID's revised disability framework highlights important themes

3 December 2015

by Dr Raymond Lang

We welcome the publication of the UK’s Department for International Development’s (DfID) revised disability framework today.

DfID published its first disability framework exactly one year ago, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2014.

The publication of the revised framework is timely, given the agreement of the sustainable development goals by the United Nations in September this year.

DfID’s revised disability framework is an impressive document, clearly demonstrating the commitment the agency has to championing genuine disability inclusion.

Several important themes are highlighted throughout this document:

  • emphasis placed on the ‘no one left behind’ agenda
  • more work in the fields of education and livelihoods
  • addressing gender and disability disparities
  • the necessity for robust statistical data on disability
  • the need for more robust research in the field of disability and international development

Inclusive education

With regard to education, DfID have indeed taken a very proactive and ambitious programme of activities.

A quality education is paramount for disabled children, being a catalyst for genuine social inclusion and combating poverty.

Consequently, all new schools built with DfID funding have to be totally accessible.

In addition, they have actively participated in the Global Partnership on Education, which is currently developing a new strategic plan and in which disability will form an important component.

Livelihoods development

Another important area for DfID is economic livelihoods. Economic growth and poverty alleviation are central in the sustainable development goals.

It has commissioned research on how intermediary institutions in the employment sector have promoted disability rights regarding economic livelihoods of disabled people in developing countries.

In addition, it has funded programmes in very challenging environments, such as South Sudan, where it has attempted to enhance the necessary employment skills for disabled people to secure long-term employment.

Data on disability

DfID have also renewed their Memorandum of Understanding with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, which will include disability questions in future surveys.

However, as with all development interventions, the challenge will be to ensure these are effectively implemented, taking into account particular country contexts, and demonstrating that such interventions genuinely achieve sustainable long-term outcomes.

We welcome the continued priority given to statistical disability data and research.

Lack of statistical data is will result in civil society institutions, including disabled people’s organisations, not being able to hold governments and donors to account for disability rights commitments.

DfID has also commissioned research to expand the evidence base regarding disability and international development.

For example, a £2 million research grant has been awarded to the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre to undertake research on disability and poverty in Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zambia, in the policy domains of education, health, labour markets and social protection. 

While DfID has made significant progress during the past year, one area that it needs to give serious consideration is developing SMART indicators by which it and be held accountable by civil society in future years.

Dr Raymond Lang is a senior research fellow at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre.

Add new comment