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 disability issues.
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 concerned.
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.