Integrating Disability into World Bank Operations

December 3, 2015

For the World Bank, disability is a cross cutting development issue.  It is a core aspect of social inclusion. Social inclusion brings in issues of perceptions, of dignity, respect and recognition that are essential for a comprehensive vision on disability and development. Lack of recognition can render some individuals and even entire groups “invisible” in official statistics. For instance, in many cultures, a disabled member of the household is not reported in the household when survey personnel conduct interviews. (see Inclusion Matters, the World Bank’s flagship report on social inclusion).

The World Bank is fully committed to advance its work on disability issues, moving beyond traditional ways of doing business, working closely together with governments and civil society, and in partnership with all like-minded partners. Consequently, our commitment on disability issues is channeled across all aspects of our work through a three-pronged approach—building evidence, promoting mainstreaming, and building partnerships and awareness.

The integration of disability issues into Bank operations spans a wide range of sectors and covers a broad typology of interventions, which include promoting accessibility and rehabilitation, providing skills development and creating economic opportunities, and influencing policies and institutional development:

  • In Bangladesh, the Disability and Children at Risk Project supported expanding the network of services for children at risk (including children with disabilities) in alignment with the legal and policy framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) while strengthening the capacity of the institutions responsible for designing and overseeing programs for child protection.
  • In Burundi and Rwanda, the Emergency Demobilization and Transitional Reintegration Project and the Emergency Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration Project provided targeted support for vulnerable groups including children associated with armed forces and disabled ex-combatants. The projects aims to provide, inter alia, housing for severely disabled ex-combatants and training activities to support their autonomy and general health.
  • In India, several sectors have been active. For example, the Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project and the North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) enhanced economic opportunities for rural populations and the most vulnerable groups, including those with physical disabilities, though self-help groups (SHGs). The Teacher Training on Inclusive Education initiative focused on inclusive education for children with disabilities including those with learning disabilities, while the Tamil Nadu Empowerment and Poverty Reduction Project focused on providing services for intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • In Nepal, the Enhanced Vocational Education and Training project focused on strengthening technical education targeted especially to disadvantaged groups, including persons with disabilities. This involved supporting a short-term training of youth between 16-40 years of age. While the project reimbursed 60 to 80% of the cost of the agreed training, the project covered 100% of training costs for persons with disabilities.
  • In Indonesia, the PNPM Peduli project works with civil society organizations to reach marginalized groups, and currently includes a pillar on disability that focuses on capacity building and grant financing for disabled people’s organizations (DPOs).
  • In Malawi and Eritrea, the Social Safety Nets and Early Childhood Development Project included components to provide education and health services to children with disabilities.
  • In the Kyrgyz Republic, the Bank supported the creation of community-based infrastructure services (including health clinics and schools) with a focus on accessibility of people with disabilities.
  • In Egypt, the Cairo Airport Terminal 2 Rehabilitation Project supported improved accessibility measures, some of which were included in the final project design. Today, the new airport is disability friendly.
  • As part of a Development Policy Loan, the Bank helped the government of Morocco elaborate an action plan on accessibility and urban transport with a specific focus on identifying priority interventions in select major cities, and review the construction code to promote accessibility. A national workshop was conducted to engage policy and decision makers at the ministerial level, and the recommendations of the national plan are now being integrated into transport projects and interventions.
  • In Iraq, the Emergency Disabilities Project supported the delivery of improved rehabilitation and prosthetic services for people with disabilities.
  • In Albania, the World Bank is providing technical assistance and advisory services for the development of a disability program that incorporates functional and medical criteria.
  • Additional projects addressing issues of disability through a social inclusion lens are being implemented in Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, Grenada, and Lebanon.

In addition to World Bank financing, the Japanese Policy and Human Resources Development Fund (PHRD) has financed efforts to mainstream disability in World Bank projects around the world for a total of US $ 23 million. To list a few: in Jamaica, support was provided for improving services and employment opportunities for people with disabilities; in Peru, a project focused on mainstreaming inclusive design and universal mobility in Lima; in Romania, the focus was to improve policy-making and the institutional framework addressing people with disability; and in Moldova, a project supported improvement of access to education for children with disabilities.