Disability research, both in the global North and the South is recent, evolving and increasingly influencing policy and practice at both national and global levels. It is time – actually far past time – that we ask critically about who is setting the agenda, who is funding, (and not funding) the issues and how we will develop the next generation of disability leaders in research from the South. But while we are carrying on this important dialogue within the ranks of disability research and advocacy, I argue we also need to look beyond the disability field and disability networks. Disability must become a key component in international development work at all levels – from the MDGs to local household surveys, if people with disabilities are truly to be reached and adequately represented. There is a pressing need for more research – both disability-specific and disability research as a component of larger work in poverty reduction, education, health, civic involvement and other key development objectives, if we hope to make a difference to the lives of persons with disabilities. Moreover, it is important that there be an increase in South-South dialogue to share new ideas and practices being developed in Africa and elsewhere in the South. It is also important to realize that there are many ideas and practices being developed in the global South from which those in the global North can learn. It is imperative then that researchers in disability from the global South take a leadership role in discussions and decisions about what should be studied and what information needs to be prioritized from the outset. The issue then becomes how to change the system to ensure that this is in fact, the case.
Groce, N.E. Research on Disability and Development: Some Thoughts from the North. Presented at AfriNEAD Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, 3 December, 2009. (2009) 7 pp.