On behalf of the World Bank, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in the launch of DFID’s Disability Framework. This is an important step towards scaling up global efforts to address disability inclusion - by enabling each individual to tap into her full potential, and for society to benefit from a diverse set of abilities. DFID’s effort to unlock the potential of opportunity through this disability framework sets an example for the international community to deepen its commitment to inclusive development.
We all recognize that disability, as a development issue, cuts across the core mission of DFID, the World Bank Group and the international development community to reduce poverty. We are looking forward to learn from the implementation of DFID’s framework, and to strengthen our partnership on this crucial agenda. This platform today provides a further boost to a valued partnership with DFID, where both organizations will aggressively and collaboratively move forward towards a common goal.
Today, one billion people globally live with some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. The social exclusion of persons with disabilities is unacceptable in the face of economic and social progress witnessed around the globe. They are over-represented amongst the persistently poor, and are less likely than others to be able to move themselves out of poverty. They are also harder to reach via traditional poverty alleviation and social protection programs. More people with disabilities live in poverty and more people in poverty have a disability. People with disabilities may also face cumulative disadvantage depending on their gender and ethnicity. We, as the World Bank Group, and as the world, will not be able to achieve our primary goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 unless we aggressively address the disability agenda. Addressing the agenda aggressively not only requires doing more and scaling up, but also developing a comprehensive vision on disability that also addresses issues related to perceptions and dignity in our interventions.
We need to move beyond traditional ways of doing business
DFID’s Disability Framework contains features that will vastly bolster our approach on disability including a solid grounding on data, a commitment to identify and act upon evidence related to what works and what doesn’t, building staff capacity, and working with an in-house disability expert group; and the framework promotes both stand-alone activities and a re-energized focus on including a disability lens into education, health, and infrastructure projects, which is something that we in the World Bank Group are trying to promote as well.
We are all fully committed to advancing our efforts in the same direction, and to move beyond traditional ways of doing business. Exclusion and stigmatization around the globe have helped perpetuate an environment which hinders people with disabilities from accessing goods, services and opportunities vital to their development and well-being. Be it education, health, labor markets, transport, social protection, or social networks, people with disabilities are marginalized at a higher rate across the development spectrum, and not enough is being done to address this problem. There may also be a perception that addressing these issues is costly, complex and often with unclear results. We need to correct this. The most efficient way to give this issue the attention and action it deserves, and to get the most impact is by working closely together with governments and civil society, and in partnership with all like-minded partners. We would therefore like to partner with you and other key stakeholders in helping promote and advance this framework.
The timing of this framework couldn’t be more fortuitous. The Bank is trying to further strengthen its own stance and engagement on disability as part of its twin goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity, so this is the right moment for us to build this partnership.
What have we accomplished over the past few years ?
The Bank’s commitment on disability issues is channeled across all aspects of our work through a three-pronged approach—building evidence, promoting operational interventions, and establishing partnerships.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank published the World Report on Disability in 2011 This report, the first of its kind, has significantly contributed to the international discourse on disability and development. The report analyzed the socio-economic impact of disability based on the best empirical evidence available; filled major knowledge gaps, particularly in health, education, and labor, and recommended clear, implementable actions to improve the lives of people with disability.
We are also developing the Model Disability Survey (MDS) with WHO. The MSD will address the lack of accurate and comparable data on disability both at national and international levels, which was identified by the World Report on Disability as one of the major impediments in developing a better understanding of disability and to the development and implementation of disability inclusion policies.
The World Bank also produces independent empirical studies on poverty and disability, disability and education, and disability and labor markets in developing countries (e.g. Disability and Poverty in Developing Countries: A Snapshot from the World Health Survey). We are also reviewing the process of conducting disability assessments and certification, which will help develop useful operational tools, and build the capacity of the World Bank and client agencies for improving these systems.
As examples of some of our regional work, the Bank is currently finalizing a comprehensive piece of work on Disability Pensions and Insurance for countries in the Middle East and North Africa to provide recommendations for developing Integrated Pensions System, and Income and Job Protection Options for Disabled Workers. The study assesses the design, outreach and costs of social insurance programs and takes stock of existing programs and institutions to promote opportunities and provide income protection for persons with disabilities
The Bank’s transport sector developed an Operational Resource book on Improving accessibility to transport for People with Limited Mobility in the Middle East and North Africa region: This book includes design guidelines and information on the adoption of low-cost technologies/practices in the transport sector; and lessons learned on “what” and “how-to” from operational work. This is available on the Bank’s website.