Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica and Peru learn about disabilities together

April 3, 2013


Prosthesis workshop, Ecuador.

World Bank

  • Representatives of five countries exchanged experiences on supporting people with disabilities.
  • They shared several examples of how to enable disabled individuals to live a full, dignified life.
  • Ecuador leads the implementation of new initiatives and is an example for other countries.

When five countries decide to exchange experiences and knowledge to improve the lives of the disabled, words such as disabilities, handicapées or discapacidades acquire the same meaning and idiomatic differences pose no obstacles.

Nineteen delegates for El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica and Peru recently met in Quito to discuss the issue and learn about Ecuador’s Manuela Espejo program.

The World Report on Disability estimates that more than one billion people in the world live with some type of disability.

For three days, delegates shared several experiences, for example with the geo-referencing system, which enables disabled persons registered in the system to be located.

Alex Camacho, secretary general of Ecuador’s Vice-president’s Office, underscored the importance of the ongoing exchange of experiences of the Manuela Espejo program in over eight countries and how the World Bank has become a strategic partner to achieve that objective.

The delegations had the opportunity to talk with project managers, as well as to visit beneficiaries and learn first-hand about providing services to the low-income, disabled population.

 “The Ecuadorean experience has become a regional and international reference for the design and implementation of public policies for the inclusion of the disabled,” said María Dolores Arribas Baños, resident representative of the World Bank in Ecuador.

" In the area of disabilities, Ecuador is becoming a true laboratory for Latin America. "

Cristhian Córdova

Budget and planning manager of the Peruvian National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities.

Different realities, similar difficulties

Denzil Thorpe, director of Social Security of Jamaica, explained how his country is developing an electronic registry of people with disabilities. “This visit,” he said “has been an excellent opportunity to see how things are done in Ecuador to be able to replicate it.”

The group leader of Haiti, Guerline Dardignac, said that her country hopes to attain achievements like those of Ecuador. “Currently in Haiti, we have no reliable data, no statistics that would allow us to identify how many people with disabilities there are and where they are. We want to make a registry to be able to develop public policy.”

Cristhian Córdova, of the Peruvian National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities, said: “In the area of disabilities, Ecuador is becoming a true laboratory for Latin America. In Peru, we have launched a pilot program to generate evidence so we can replicate the experience in the rest of the country.”

While every country is different, the experiences, challenges and policies to serve the disabled tend to be similar.

The common problems identified included limited access to employment, education and health care, the lack of diagnoses or data collection, limited personnel training and the lack of a legal framework.

World Bank Support

"It is essential to continue with this knowledge exchange as it allows us to apply the different experiences in accordance with the reality of each country,” said Guadalupe Rodríguez, director of Communications of El Salvador’s War Disabled Association.

The World Bank office in Ecuador has supported a variety of disability initiatives. In January 2012, together with the National Federation of People with Disabilities, it presented the World Report on Disabilities, which provides an in-depth look at the situation of the disabled in the world.

In June 2012, the World Bank and the Vice-president’s Office of Ecuador organized América Solidaria/American Solidarity. The event brought together more than 30 countries of the region for the purpose of strengthening policies and projects to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.

For Carine Clert, the World Bank’s Human Development Sector Leader for the Andean Countries, disability is often an invisible issue. “Latin America is engaged in an important process of inclusion through which it is attempting to reduce inequality. In this context, focusing on people with disabilities is the new frontier,” she said.