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Policy Brief: Involving people with disabilities in humanitarian response

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The need to improve the extent to which people with disabilities are included in humanitarian response is increasingly documented and broadly recognised by humanitarian actors, including governments, donors, United Nations agencies, local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs).

In 2018, the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned CBM and Nigeria’s Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities to review disability inclusion in four humanitarian projects funded by the North East Nigeria Transition to Development (NENTAD) programme - the first time such a review has been conducted of DFID’s humanitarian programmes.

This policy brief shares key findings and recommendations from the review.

Key findings

  1. A complex humanitarian context and security situation contributes to the challenges for disability inclusion in humanitarian programming.

  2. Disability inclusion must become the norm for humanitarian action.

  3. Inclusion should be taken into account at all stages of the project cycle, including the initial needs assessment and subsequent design and planning of humanitarian response.

  4. Improvements in the participation of men and women with disabilities are needed across the entire project cycle management; to achieve this, budgets need to incorporate necessary adaptations and accessibility measures.

  5. Collecting and disaggregating data about people with disabilities is key to effective inclusion in humanitarian operations.

  6. Technical capacity building for staff in inclusion and ongoing support to adopt inclusive practices is needed.

  7. Applying a twin track approach to humanitarian programming empowers people with disabilities and meets their specific needs, whilst also working to ensure inclusion is mainstreamed.

  8. Humanitarian actors should take every opportunity to build awareness about disability inclusion.