• Blog
  • 8 June 2015

Where do aid investments targeting persons with disabilities go?

Recording systems for donors’ aid do not capture the true scale of aid investments relevant for persons with disabilities. We estimate that over a third of

Tracking of aid to sectors difficult without full data breakdowns

Disability data blog

Recording systems for donors’ aid do not capture the true scale of aid investments relevant for persons with disabilities. We estimate that over a third of aid targeting persons with disabilities are projects in the health sector, though other sectors feature prominently. Enhanced reporting standards would help ensure improved tracking of aid targeting persons with disabilities, including by sector.

An estimated 1 billion people globally live with a disability. Persons with disabilities are thought to be over-represented among the poor. [1] However, it is currently challenging to track the investments aid donors make towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities, even though aid is thought to be a critical resource for supporting the needs of this group. [4]

Finding out how much aid is spent on persons with disabilities is challenging

Data on disability-related aid investments is lacking. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) does not provide clear and comprehensive data on aid projects related to disabilities. While there is a specific marker for gender-related projects, there is no such marker for disability.

Neither are there specific sector codes for reporting disability-relevant aid projects.

Two sectors refer to disabilities – ‘human rights’ and ‘social welfare/services’ – but also cover other disadvantaged groups, such as religious minorities or migrants. Two other sectors that could be strongly related to disability include ‘landmines’ and ‘relief and rehabilitation’.[2]

What we found

A search of CRS project descriptions for disability-related terms shows 1,719 disability-relevant aid projects in 2013, worth US$610 million. [3] These projects cover many sectors. Health accounts for more than a third (38%) of the total. ‘Other social services’, including ‘social welfare/services’, accounts for just a fifth (21%), with ‘education’ and ‘governance and security’ also prominent. The four sectors identified as relevant to persons with disabilities account for less than a third of the total disability-relevant aid projects identified in the word search.

How could data on aid to persons with disabilities be improved?

In two key ways:

  1. Explicitly consider persons in planning stages of aid-funded projects

Donors should consider how disadvantaged groups, including persons with disabilities, stand to benefit from aid projects at the planning stage and plan to qualitatively and quantitatively report on the impacts.

  1. Improving reporting on projects

Disaggregated data on financing available to persons with disabilities can support more informed decision-making on international and domestic investments. Our word search-based findings rely on the quality of donors’ reporting. More detailed project-level reporting, or a disability marker in the CRS (similar to that which exists for gender and climate-relevant aid projects), could help improve data for tracking aid investments to this important disadvantaged group.

Download the data in Excel and CSV


Data are gross official development assistance (ODA) disbursements to all eligible recipients from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors, non-DAC donors and multilateral organisations reporting to the OECD CRS.

“Other sectors” include water & sanitation, banking & business, industry & trade, infrastructure, agriculture & food security, environment, other and undefined.

  1. The World Health Organization and World Bank estimated the number of people with disabilities at 978 million people in the 2011 World Report on Disability, or 15% of the global population, based on 2004 data.
  1. See the OECD DAC’s list of sector codes.
  1. “Aid projects” here refer to individual CRS records which could be aid activities or aid projects. While not exhaustive, the terms searched for in CRS records long description fields for this research were: “disabled”, “disability”, “disabilities”, “deaf”, “blind”, “handicap”, “wheelchair”, “hearing aids” “Braille”, “sign language”, “crutches”, and French translations of key words: “sourd”, “aveugle”, “langue des signes”, “fauteuil roulant”, “aide auditive”, “béquille”.
  2. IDDC and IDA policy briefing on FFD 


DI calculations based on the OECD Creditor Reporting System

World Health Organization and World Bank (2011) World Report on Disability