Government failing to put disabled people at heart of aid schemes – watchdog

The Government is failing to meet its commitment to put disabled people at the heart of its aid programme, a watchdog has warned.

Ministers pledged to make disability inclusion in developing countries central in work to help the world’s poorest, but there is still a “considerable distance” to go, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) said.

It found that concerns over costs were sometimes taking priority over disability access in aid projects.

Department for International Development’s (DfID) reforms have been “too modest” in scale to be able to deliver transformational results, it said.

The watchdog also found evidence of a “shortfall of trust” among staff with disabilities working for DfID, with some saying they did not feel comfortable discussing their disability with their manager.

It called for the department to come up with firm commitments on disability inclusion, increase the number of staff with disabilities and expertise in the area and to carry out more detailed planning.

Dr Alison Evans (pictured), ICAI’s chief commissioner, who led the review, said: “Any attempt to end extreme poverty in the world must tackle disability.

“More than one in six adults in developing countries have a disability, and they are frequently poorer, not just in income, but also in health, education, employment, and social inclusion.

“So DfID’s focus on disability is to be welcomed, and we were pleased to see that the UK has shown international leadership in driving disability up the international agenda.

“However, this impressive ambition has yet to be matched by the strong tangible action needed, and until this happens the UK will not be able to deliver fully for people with disabilities.”

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