Disability data is integral to achieving the SDGs


This page in:

Disabled Businessman Sitting In Wheelchair Using Computer At Workplace Image: Andrey Popov/Shutterstock.com

The World Bank signed the Inclusive Data Charter in July 2018, towards mobilizing political support to improve the quality, quantity, availability, and financing of disaggregated data. Ultimately, these data improvements will support the World Bank Group’s ambition of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity, as well as help monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With support from the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building, some of us in the Development Economics Vice Presidency have been working with internal and external partners—such as the Poverty, Education, and Social Protection Global Practices, UNICEF, the South Africa Statistics Office, and the Washington Group on Disability—to strengthen the collection, applicability, and availability of disability data. Better disability data is needed to inform policy decisions that can improve living conditions for disabled people worldwide.

Our Inclusive Data and Statistics project, supported by Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building, is intended to contribute towards the World Bank’s commitment to disability-inclusive development, the Department for International Development’s data disaggregation action plan, and the SDGs’ “leave no one behind” principle. Together, we’ve been collaborating to develop the methodology for collecting disaggregated data on disability; design the conceptual framework on disability definitions across different sectors; and evaluate improved survey instruments and implementation through testing and building the capacity of national statistical offices, ministries of education, and relevant professionals.

In terms of building internal capacity, task team leaders have received training from the Washington Group on Disability on the history, framework, testing, and issues around implementing their short set of questions on disability (WGSS). Their 20 years of work helped us apply the WGSS in various settings and enable a speedy data generation process. 

Now we are working towards implementing targeted activities to set the foundation for improved methodology, collection, use, and availability of data disaggregated by sex, age, geographic location, and disability status:

  • Piloting the WGSS on disability in the Kyrgyz Republic 2020 Population and Housing Census, by providing related training on the module and preparing a data analysis plan via technical assistance;
  • Testing the WGSS on disability in the Tajikistan Household Budget Survey, by supporting the improvement of the questionnaire, the sample design and its data generation system;     
  • Building capacity for faith-based schools and inclusive education in West and Central Africa, by improving the collection, use, and analysis of data including disability from Koranic and other faith-based schools to inform policy design;
  • Making Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) more inclusive through the integration of disability considerations in Nicaragua, by adopting the Washington Group/UNICEF Module on Child Functioning, developing data collection protocols, piloting the adapted questionnaires, and disseminating results;
  • Incorporating child functioning measurement into EMIS in Guatemala, through a rapid diagnostic of the broader inclusive education landscape to understand inclusive education governance in the country. We also improved the instrument and its deployment with technical assistance, and incorporated the UNICEF-Washington Group questionnaires on child disability by designing and developing the data collection protocols through system modifications;
  • Harmonizing the definitions of disability and standards across different administrative data sources in South Africa together with Statistics South Africa, by developing a research protocol and testing the use of social/functioning definitions of disability in administrative data sources;
  • Improving the use of existing data on disability by identifying the household surveys that include WGSS on disability and conducting analysis for the surveys with adequate questions and sample sizes to do meaningful tabulation and disaggregation.

Over the next six months, we plan to implement these activities together with our partners and make the resulting data available online as a public good. Disability data has already led to important policy considerations worldwide, and collecting this data is integral to achieving almost all SDG Goals. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue this critical work!


Join the Conversation