Disabilities and rehabilitation

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Making the MDGs inclusive: empowerment of persons with disabilities in their communities

Facts about disability

  • At least 10% of the world's population, or 650 million people, live with a disability (1).
  • 20% of the worlds poor are disabled (2).
  • The percentage of children with disabilities not attending school is extremely variable and is between 65 - 85% in some African countries (3).
  • Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80% in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased to below 20% (4).
  • In many low-income and middle -income countries, only 5-15% of disabled people who require assistive devices and technology have access to them (5).

Millenium Development Goals and Inclusive Development

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are 8 development objectives set by the UN and membership organizations for the global community. The Goals consist of 21 quantifiable targets and are measured by 60 indicators. They address the needs of the world’s poorest citizens and the world’s most marginalized populations by fostering collaborative action in key areas - poverty, education, health and the environment. The MDGs do not explicitly mention disability.

Photo of a young Bangladeshi woman with mental impairment playing a game with six children holding hands.  Source: Centre for Disability in Development Bangladesh / Shumon Ahmed

Considering the challenges that people with disabilities face it is vital that the global community works to mainstream disability across all development sectors. A recent report from The Expert Group Meeting on Mainstreaming Disability in MDG Policies, Processes and Mechanisms: Development for All suggests that the MDGs can only be achieved with the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Disability-inclusive MDGs would serve to implement a number of the substantive Articles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP). While the CRPD does not introduce new rights it reaffirms the need to promote and protect the human rights of people with disabilities in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life.

Community-based rehabilitation

Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) is a development strategy that is currently implemented in over 90 countries throughout the world to address the needs of people with disabilities and their family members. CBR aims to provide rehabilitation, reduce poverty, equalize opportunities and promote the inclusion of disabled people in their communities. It focuses on four key development areas – health, education, livelihood and social – and promotes mainstreaming and empowerment. CBR is a flexible and dynamic strategy that can be adapted to suit different contexts and where properly funded and supported it can make a contribution towards the achievement of the MDGs and the implementation of the CRPD.