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The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Bridging the gap: examining disability and development in four African countries

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Prinicipal investigator: Nora Groce. Lead Organisation: Leonard Cheshire Disability

Co-investigators: Marcella Deluca; Raymond Paul Lang; Mark Carew; Maria Kett

Disabled people are among the poorest and most socially excluded groups in every society (World Bank, 2011). They are disproportionately represented in lower income countries and it has long been argued that poverty and disability are both a cause and a consequence of each other (DFID 2000; Yeo and Moore 2003). Despite some attempts to include disabled people in global development and poverty alleviation strategies, overall these have not been done in a systematic or sustainable way. This research builds upon previous work undertaken by the Centre, including in the DFID-funded Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme, which identified a series of common systemic barriers that disabled people encounter when accessing services, ranging from attitudinal, financial and non-financial resources, and lack information and inclusion in national level poverty reduction strategies.

This research will build upon this work to inform understanding of the correlation that between these barriers, disability, and multidimensional poverty It must be recognised that in settings where everyone is poor, where few people access wage labour, where school attendance is paltry, healthcare access is limited and social protection is almost non-existent then disabled people are not necessarily very different from their neighbours. Yet, as countries develop, there is emerging evidence of a 'development gap' (Groce and Kett, 2013; Groce et al., 2011; Lang and Murangira, 2009), whereby disabled people fall behind. Building on the World Report on Disability (2011), this study will contribute to understanding how this development gap occurs, and what can be done to bridge the gap - a key and original theme of this study The research will focus on 4 low-income Sub-Saharan African countries: Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia.

All have shown some development over the past decades, but there is still variation within their rankings in the Human Development Index (HDI) to enable cross-country comparisons to be made and provide an in-depth, nuanced understanding of how disabled people are more at risk of being excluded as social and economic development increases. The research will undertake comprehensive policy analysis that explores the apparent gaps between policy formulation and implementation, which may be a result of contradictions or overlap. It will examine the extent to which policies are actually addressing unmet needs and rights of disabled people and the level of financial and human resources required to ensure they are addressed. It will identify ways to overcome challenges and promote improved monitoring and evaluation strategies. This implies the need to maximise the quality of data governments obtain from census and national surveys.

Consequently, in addition to policy and programme analysis, secondary analysis of existing data in the 4 countries will be conducted to highlight the lack of disability-specific information as it relates to multidimensional poverty and barriers to inclusion. To address this expected gap, a household level survey will be piloted to test the "disability and development gap" hypothesis, taking into account age, sex, location and impairment status, comparing disabled and non-disabled people. This will be supplemented by qualitative research with communities and individuals to provide in-depth context The research will explore the nexus between disability, lack of inclusion, barriers and multidimensional poverty; provide guidance as to how the data gaps can be filled; and identify ways of overcoming barriers.

The results will be of primary benefit to disabled people and their families as the direct targets of policies and practices that can be improved as a result of the research, and indirectly through the expected impact of the research on governments, policymakers, national statistics offices, researchers, disabled people's organisations, and other stakeholders working to alleviate poverty in Africa.

Further Resources:

The Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre has a global reputation in disability and international development research, regularly undertaking consultancies for UN agencies, and bilateral and multilateral donors. The research is timely as the negotiations of the post-2015 agenda will take place during the programme's lifecycle, and thus the results that are generated have the potential for global impact, by feeding directly into UN policy and programming. The Centre is in a unique position to maximise the impact of this programme, having on-going interactions and significant influence at the UN level. The primary beneficiaries of the programme will include disabled people and their representation organisations, and National Disability Commissions in the four countries, who are well positioned to utilise the findings in policy, programming, advocacy and campaigning. The research will provide an invaluable and rich data resource - one currently lacking - to engage and negotiate with national governments and donor agencies. The results of research exploring the 'disability and development gap' have the potential to make a significant contribution to discussions around multidimensional poverty to academics and practitioners in Africa and beyond. The knowledge generated through this research will enable international development policy-makers and practitioners, including donor agencies to prioritise and implement programmes that most efficiently and effectively reduce poverty among disabled adults and children. It will generate new knowledge about the interactions between disability, multidimensional poverty and barriers, and provide guidance to national governments, policy makers, and statistics offices to ensure the specific inclusion of disabled people in national surveys. There is growing momentum in mainstreaming a disability component within national policies in these countries, but many ministries are grappling with the practicalities implementation. The on-going engagement with ministries throughout the lifecycle of this project has the potential to enhance their capacities to effectively design, implement and monitor progressive, human rights-based policies and programmes and that directly address the needs of disabled people. It will also facilitate stronger communication across and between ministries and other key stakeholders through its multidisciplinary approach. Key stakeholder workshops, including representatives from government ministries, UN agencies, DPOs, NGOs and others identified by national partners, will be held in each country at the outset of the programme to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of, have engaged with, and input into the research programme. Following these inception meetings, a pan-African follow up meeting will be held to ensure maximum impact by promoting effective South-South communication from the outset. There will also be regular in-country dialogue through face-to-face meetings, as well as briefing papers, policy briefs and research summaries and other outputs during the course of the research to ensure continued engagement. These will be disseminated widely through national and international forums, as well as through a dedicated webpage. A workshop will be held in each country, the end of programme bringing together key stakeholders to present and discuss the findings and policy implications of the research. These will be of interest to all key stakeholders, including DPOs, government officials, donor agencies academics and mainstream and disability-focused development partners. A regional end of programme workshop will be held to discuss pan-African implications of the research. Finally, an end of programme conference (likely in the UK) will showcase key research findings, lessons learned and policy recommendations. In the long-term, it is anticipated that these can be replicated in other low-income countries throughout Africa and globally

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Research Centre
Fund Start Date: 
April 1st, 2015
Fund End Date: 
March 31st, 2018
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: