Andrew Mitchell MP talking at the Global Food Security Summit. Credit: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Andrew Mitchell MP talking at the Global Food Security Summit. Credit: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Disability-inclusive development: How the government’s approach can be improved

On Tuesday 23 January, as part of its ongoing inquiry, the International Development Committee (IDC) questioned the FCDO Minister of State of the United Kingdom for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, on the department’s approach to disability-inclusive development.

The IDC has played a critical role in promoting disability inclusion in the FCDO’s work. While this inquiry showed that there is still much to be done, it also included encouraging commitments from Minster Mitchell.

The Minister rightly drew attention to how the FCDO’s Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy has set a strong framework to ensure the UK’s international development is inclusive of people with disabilities and leaves no one behind. The Bond Disability and Development Group (Bond DDG) also welcomes the Minister underlining the commitment to disability inclusion in the recent International Development White Paper.

Most encouraging was a commitment by the Minister to publish the Delivery Plan that accompanies the Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy. This is an opportunity to update the Delivery Plan with clear targets that match the ambition of the strategy itself. It is also a chance to meaningfully engage organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), complimenting existing FCDO efforts such as the Disability Inclusion Team’s excellent guidelines on OPD engagement. Publishing the Delivery Plan would be a key step towards the Minister’s promised goal of increasing accountability and transparency around UK development.

There are many examples of good practice and UK leadership, and several of the programmes mentioned by the Minister involved Bond DDG members. However, it was noted that only around a third of the UK’s bilateral Official Development Assistance is disability-inclusive, and less than 1% is targeted towards people with disabilities. The IDC has echoed our calls for targets to be set on the percentage of programmes that should be inclusive and for an improvement to the quality of disaggregated data across FCDO-funded projects. We look forward to seeing follow-up from the Minister on this.

As the Minister noted, FCDO’s work on disability inclusion ‘dipped a bit at the time of the merger,’ but we hope the upcoming findings from the inquiry, alongside the ongoing dedication of the FCDO Disability Inclusion Team, will show a clear way forward on global disability rights.