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Blog: Bridging the Gap: Examining disability and development in Africa

Photo (cropped): Mario Bollini/Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mar 2018

We welcomed the news that the Government of Kenya is one of the co-hosts of the forthcoming Disability Summit in July this year. Kenya, along with Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia is one of the four countries of focus in the Bridging the Gap: Examining Disability and Development in Four African Countries research programme.

This three year project, funded by the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund For Poverty Alleviation, led by Professor Nora Groce, at the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, UCL, in collaboration with five leading African academic institutions and four national disabled people’s organisations, has been exploring how people with disabilities fare in the face of international development efforts.

It is hoped the results will go some way to supporting the UK Governments efforts to strengthen disability inclusion in DFIDs development programmes – an issue that has been a neglected on the international stage.  But it is also crucial that donors, national governments and civil society work together to improve the lives of the billion disabled people worldwide. The Kenyan Government’s co-hosting of the Summit is a clear indication that they are committed to ensuring that all children and adults will be included in the efforts to move Kenya towards middle income status by 2030.

Countries, including the four who formed the focus of this study, are increasingly paying attention to the need to include adults and children with disabilities into national development efforts as part of their commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, now ratified by 175 countries worldwide; as well as the growing recognition that unless the 15% of the world’s population who live with a disability are included in all development efforts, including the Sustainable Development Goals, these global goals will not be met and adults and children with disabilities will increasingly be left behind. 

Commitment, collaboration and partnerships

Key findings from this research will be presented at a two-day conference in London next week (12 – 13th March). It is hoped these findings will identify key entry points for governments, donors, policymakers and other stakeholder to reduce the risk of a widening gap between disabled and non-disabled people to ensure adults and children with disabilities are not left out, or left behind.  It is also hoped that the conference will provide a forum to discuss and debate these ideas, and how we can work across a range of different disciplines, sectors and organisations to learn how to work together, and bring a range of perspectives to strengthen f research, policy, practice and accountability.

The conference will bring together over 200 people from more than 40 countries, representing as range of experience, including academia, policymaking, private sector, disabled peoples organisations, and civil society over the course of the two days.

For those of us who have been working on these issues for much of our career, we are keenly aware that addressing the gaps in education, employment, healthcare and social protection mechanisms faced by adults and children with disabilities not only in Africa, but around the world, can only be addressed through genuine commitment, collaboration and partnerships. The time has come to ensure government, donors and other key stakeholders listen to the evidence, act on their commitments and create opportunities for new ways to work together to strengthen national and international efforts to ensure adults and children with disabilities are not left behind, or left out.

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The Impact Initiative blog posts are either from individual researchers or from major research programmes. Some of the blog posts are original source and are written by researchers and experts connected to the two research programmes jointly funded by ESRC and FCDO: the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme. Other blog posts are imported from related websites and programmes. 

The views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of each individual and may not represent the Institute of Development Studies, the University of Cambridge, ESRC or FCDO.


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