a man with a wheelchair and a women dancing

10 elements for an inclusive development project

Over 1.3 billion people live with at least one disability on the planet. Over 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. Because persons with disabilities are a part of every target group, this means that their rights and needs must be consistently included in development cooperation (DC). Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) obliges the German development cooperation to make its projects inclusive. The 10 elements listed below can assist in implementing disability inclusion in development cooperation projects.

1. Including the partners

The rights of persons with disabilities are an important part of the human-rights dialogue and should be addressed in government consultations and negotiations. Most of the international community of states has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, in many cases, the responsible ministry is only marginally involved in bilateral development cooperation negotiations. The cooperation between the ministries responsible for development cooperation planning and the competent ministry responsible for inclusion can be strengthened if the topic of the rights of persons with disabilities is addressed proactively.

In the consultations with a partner country, the German side points out that disability-inclusive development cooperation within the terms of Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is important to them. The planning ministry then invites the responsible ministry for social affairs to set up a cross-departmental working group to make proposals for the consideration of inclusion in the various development cooperation priority sectors.

2. Planning and Controlling

The consideration of persons with disabilities should be reflected in the offer made by the implementing organization to the BMZ. This can include mentioning the situation of persons with disabilities in the problem statement or in the section on the target groups of the project. It is important that inclusion is also part of the BMZ´s mandate to GIZ or KfW, the more persons with disabilities will be considered in the implementation of the project. This should be documented in the reporting.

A project to build sanitation facilities in rural areas sets up an indicator that is used at the end of the phase to check how many facilities have been built to be fully accessible and how many villagers with disabilities use the facilities.

3. Taking a close look

At many points in a project, the situation on the ground is analysed – e.g., during review missions, project progress reviews or baseline studies at the beginning of the project. Care should be taken to ensure that this analysis also reflects the reality of persons with disabilities. Given the heterogeneous background of this sub-target group, this can be enormously diverse and closely linked to the respective conditions of the physical and social environment. Where appropriate, a specific analysis of the situation of persons with disabilities in the partner country can be carried out, which should then include an overview of different stakeholders as well as an evaluation of the policy framework of the rights of persons with disabilities.

After an earthquake, the experts on the assessment mission also analyze the situation of persons with disabilities and make recommendations on how the transactional aid project can be addressed the best. The results of the analysis flow into the general test report and a specific description of the situation.

4. Use resources from persons with disabilities

Civil society consultations are held as part of numerous projects. Be it an invitation to a planning workshop or more systematic engagement processes with NGOs, it should always be considered that persons with disabilities and their organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) are also actively involved. Basically, whenever persons with disabilities are affected by the activities of a project, you should seek a dialogue to them before and during implementation. There are no better experts on disability inclusion than those who live with disabilities themselves.

A rural development project invites various women’s groups to a one-day workshop on the danger of open (fireplaces). A local organization of persons with disabilities is also asked to send representatives.

5. Gradually breaking down physical and communication barriers

Physical accessibility is one of the most important practical requirements of an inclusive society. This does not only include ramps, wide doors and accessible toilets for wheelchair users, but also guidance systems for persons with visual impairments, visual and optical signals or sign language interpretation for deaf persons and if necessary, texts in simple language for people with intellectual/mental disabilities. Buildings, events, information materials etc. should be designed in such a way that persons with various disabilities can also obtain information and participate.

In a large educational program, while building 50 village schools, it is made sure to make them accessible for children in wheelchairs. In some schools Braille printers are provided.

6. Sensitizing and raising awareness

Disability is a taboo subject in many societies or viewed as a purely medical phenomenon. With workshops or campaigns, target groups, mediators or even employees can be made aware of a social and human rights-based understanding of disabilities. Specific educational work can be carried out when appropriate, but it is just as important that awareness-raising activities on other issues also reflect the situation of persons with disabilities.

An awareness-campaign on the topic of HIV/Aids also shows the stigmatization of persons with disabilities and addresses the particularly high risk of women with disabilities becoming victims of sexual violence.

7. Making political advice inclusive

In the policy consultation for the partner, the issue of disability can be addressed in the respective sector. Almost all departments are in some way related to disability, almost all policies have an impact on persons with disabilities. This perspective should therefore always be included when advising the partner government.

A project on the implementation of economic reforms and labor market policy advises the Ministry of Labor of the partner government, among other things, how to improve placing persons with disabilities in the labor market.

8. Defining responsibilities

Cross-cutting issues are often neglected because nobody really feels responsible. Therefore, the personal commitment of individuals who are responsible for a project is fundamentally important: This can be the country representative in the BMZ, the office manager or the persons responsible for the project ideally everyone. It can make sense to nominate an employee in the office or in the project as a focal point for disability issues. As part of his or her working hours the person coordinates the efforts to make the project activities inclusive and has the function of contact person.

A national employee is available with 50% of her working time as a contact person on the issue of disability. She conducts workshops with colleagues and regularly discusses the challenges and progress in including persons with disabilities in the projects with those responsible for the assignment.

9. Investing in inclusion

Most of the time, a high level of participation can be achieved with little creativity within existing resources. However, in some cases an important contribution can be made by accepting additional costs. This can be a structural adjustment of a project building or the acceptance of costs for sign language interpretation. It is therefore advisable to reserve part of the budget for such “inclusion investments” during project planning.

A program to improve access to health services is setting up an “inclusion fund” that finances various awareness workshops for hospital staff. The “Charter of Patient´s Rights” developed in the project will be printed in Braille with money from the fund and distributed to hospitals.

10. Monitoring Inclusion

Inclusion should be verifiable. Therefore, it is important to record the inclusion of persons with disabilities in a project´s monitoring system. As it is generally the case in development cooperation, the following also applies here: the more impact-oriented, the more useful.
Statements should not only be made, for example about the numbers of users with disabilities in a project, but also about the adjustments to the project measures according to the different needs of the group.

In a vocational training program, the gender and age of the students is recorded and in addition to that, whether they have special needs. At the end of the year, the performance of the students and the success of the special support is measured.

Would you like to learn more about how you can implement the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development projects? Then get in touch with us at disability@giz.de.