The Millennium Development Goals call for increased focus on poverty
reduction. The World Bank estimates that 20% of the poorest are disabled
people. There is also general consensus that disproportionate numbers of
disabled people are among those living in chronic poverty.
Despite this context, the hypothesis is that disabled people are largely
excluded from mainstream development programmes and that unless changes
are made they are likely to remain in chronic poverty even if the
international goals are reached. Research was conducted among
international development organisations with offices in the UK, to
examine the extent to which disabled people are included in their work.
More specifically the aims of this research were to look at the barriers
to better inclusion and at strategies to overcome such barriers. A
questionnaire was sent to approximately 275 organisations (30 replies
were received!) and individual interviews conducted with 22. This
research is not intended to be statistically significant, rather to
cover a range of different organisations and their approach to
All the organisations involved in this study work on poverty reduction
issues in various ways, yet the results show widespread exclusion of
disabled people from their work. This is generally not as a result of
deliberate exclusion more due to lack of awareness of the need to
actively consider this issue. A few organisations have put considerable
work into becoming more inclusive. Examples of their activities are
described. After some consideration, almost all interviewees had
constructive ideas on how the barriers to disability inclusion could be
reduced within their organisation.
The intention is not to name and shame organisations, but to examine the
problems and consider solutions. The source of individual comments
therefore remains anonymous except where agreed with the organisation
To what extent are disabled people included in international development work? How can the barriers to inclusion be overcome?, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 17 pp.
To what extent are disabled people included in international development work? How can the barriers to inclusion be overcome?