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Tracking disability inclusion in multilateral organizations

  • Engelsk sammendrag av Faforeport 2022:04
  • Mona Christophersen, Ingunn Bjørkhaug and Åge A. Tiltnes
  • 01. april 2022

This report investigates the developments in efforts to monitor the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the programs and activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank, in the years between the first (2018) and the second (2022) Global Disability Summits (GDSs). The report is based primarily on information from, and the experiences shared by, the staff of these three multilateral organizations. It asks if and how the recent polices, guidelines, and accountability frameworks of UNHCR, UNICEF, and the World Bank have led to an improvement in the monitoring of the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Although the three organizations serve as case examples, in this report we have not carried out a comprehensive study of the organizations per se, but rather explored how the organizations currently track efforts toward disability inclusion.

Chapter 1 presents the central concepts related to disability inclusion and identifies some of the methods currently used to identify persons with disabilities. We briefly discuss the concept of inclusive education and explain the methodology adopted in our study.

Chapter 2 describes some of the main tools and approaches used by the three organizations to track and monitor disability inclusion, including the Washington Group questionnaire modules for use in national censuses and household surveys. We also present the OECD-DAC marker that was developed to facilitate the tracking of disability inclusion in development and humanitarian aid, because it is an important tool despite not being used by the three organizations.

The three organizations have all developed strategies and accountability frameworks that include commitments to the inclusion of persons with disabilities at all levels of the organizations’ work, as well as obligations to track and monitor such efforts. We present the UN Disability Strategy and the World Bank Disability Inclusion and Accountability Framework and discuss their implications for tracking and monitoring disability inclusion. We also present UNICEF’s program performance management system: inSight. This connects UNICEF’s strategic plan to work on the ground at the implementation level through an intricate system of indicators, tags, and codes, including for disability and inclusion. The system provides managers with detailed information on program implementation and results; links information from activities, results, and expenditure at the program and country levels to policy areas, goals, and targets in the strategic plan; allows the production of reports based on detailed data; and lets donors produce their own reports in accordance with their own specific needs, interests, and policy requirements through a portal.

Chapter 3 discusses in some detail the experiences staff at both the headquarters and local level of the organizations have with using these tools to track disability inclusion in the field. For example, how the Washington Group questions, which were mainly developed to measure disability prevalence, can also be used to identify persons with disabilities for program participation in certain contexts and then monitor their inclusion. We address experiences with the OECD-DAC marker for disability inclusion and find a modest interest in using the marker among the three multilateral organizations. We discuss the field experiences of using UNICEF’s in-Sight system and find that knowledge about disability and the promotion of inclusion as well as competence in the usage of the system may be insufficient. Finally, we turn to other challenges in tracking disability inclusion, with a particular focus on stigma. Stigma was an issue raised by many of the informants. We discuss stigma as presenting a challenge to identify disabled persons and thus include them in local programs, as well as the implications of stigma on monitoring and tracking efforts. 

When summarizing the main findings at the end of the report, we address how there are currently a variety of initiatives, programs, and practical efforts on the ground aiming to include persons with disabilities. We identify several challenges that remain for the successful monitoring of the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Current tracking and monitoring efforts are still far from providing sufficient documentation on how many persons with disabilities are being reached by both targeted and mainstreaming programs aiming for disability inclusion. We conclude that it remains difficult for stakeholders to make well-informed choices on where to most efficiently allocate available funding to best contribute to meeting the rights to the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Finally, the report ends with a set of recommendations.