Data to support disability inclusion
People with disabilities are less likely to make progress out of poverty and have lower chances of earning a decent living. High-quality disability data – when accessible and used effectively – can help communities, policymakers and local officials better understand and prioritise interventions that are vital for supporting people with disabilities and ensuring they are not left behind. Data means being counted, and therefore included. However, in many places, it is unclear what data is currently available, and what improvements need to be made in terms of availability, quality and use to ensure people with disabilities are being included.
The purpose of our work
Development Initiatives has teamed up with Sightsavers and others on the Inclusive Futures initiative, funded by UK aid. Our aim under the programme is to create and test innovative approaches to improve the long-term economic empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
DI's role in this consortium is to improve the quality and use of disability data in these four target countries. To establish a baseline for the project, we conducted an initial mapping of the disability data that exists, which involved: identifying official sources of disability data (i.e. censuses, national studies and surveys); assessing the quality of the data those sources provide; and presenting analysis of disability prevalence for working-age persons and employment rates of those with disabilities from publicly available microdata (i.e. individual response data in surveys and censuses).
We are making good headway towards improving the quality and use of disability data in our target countries. We have identified 18 official sources of disability data across the 4 target countries. Uganda produces the most consistent estimates of disability prevalence and its data is largely of high quality. However, we identified significant challenges in the official data sources in Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria, which would benefit from a consistent approach to how disability is measured.
Using the high-quality data that we found, we have been able to produce valuable analysis that sheds light on the employment of people with disabilities compared to other sections of the population. For example, in each target country, the employment rate of people with disabilities was significantly lower than the national employment rate. Further, employment rates of people with disabilities varies widely depending on the type of impairment. Those with cognitive or self-care impairments have the lowest employment rates. In Bangladesh, women with disabilities were significantly less likely to be employed than men; however, in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, women with disabilities had higher employment rates than men with disabilities.
Building on our findings so far, we will engage with national disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to assess their data needs. This process will entail conducting tailored data surveys and key informant interviews to evaluate what data DPOs require to improve effectively the welfare and opportunities for people with disabilities.
We will also conduct a disability data audit, which will expand the range of our preliminary data scoping to include unofficial and academic sources not already captured. This audit will comprehensively identify what disability data is currently available for each of the target countries, who produces it, where it is stored, and who is currently using it – giving us a more complete picture of the data that is available and how it could be improved.