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CBM gives evidence to new Parliamentary inquiry into the disability inclusiveness of FCDO development strategy and delivery

Posted on: Monday, October 23rd, 2023

On 17 October, the cross-party International Development Committee (IDC) invited CBM UK to participate in an oral evidence session as part of their important new inquiry into the adequacy and effectiveness of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s disability and inclusion rights strategy. Following our submission of written evidence, we were delighted to receive this invitation to provide oral evidence, and Kevin Sudi, Programme Manager for CBM Global Kenya gave a powerful testimony.

“Any international development programme that seeks to leave no one behind has to have at its heart an answer to the challenge of how to include persons with disabilities.” Kevin Sudi, Programme Manager, CBM Global Kenya

Tuesday’s inquiry represented a very welcome opportunity for CBM to contribute to ongoing, much-needed conversations about disability inclusion in FCDO spending and strategy. The panel included representatives from several organisations who have designed and delivered FCDO funded programmes. Across the board there was a recognition of the UK’s leadership in disability-inclusive development – though many noted that it is easier to lead in words than in action.

Looking back to 2021, the National Disability Strategy committed the UK Government to supporting people with disabilities in the UK and around the world, and to putting the needs and experiences of people with disabilities at the heart of government policy-making and service delivery.

The commitment to “building an inclusive future for all” through a sustainable, rights-based approach was reaffirmed in the FCDO’s 2022 disability inclusion and rights strategy.

However, in August this year the Committee published the FCDO’s own analysis of the impact of its aid budget cuts on equalities. That assessment set out the disproportionately damaging impact for disabled people of significant, ongoing cuts to the UK’s direct aid spending, and the consequences they will face.

It showed that programmes specifically aimed at reaching those furthest behind – including disabled people, women and girls – would be cut.

Kevin gave a compelling example of the impact of these cuts;

“In Kenya, we did experience a reduction in one of our projects that was FCDO supported, which was seeking to support persons with disabilities to identify challenges in employment, create solutions that are sourced from their understanding of their challenges, and open up spaces for increased employment.

But with the aid cuts, some of the organisations that opened up their doors to improve accessible employment opportunities had to reduce their engagement, and therefore some of the persons with disabilities ended up going home.”

He went on to say;

“Any international development programme that seeks to leave no one behind has to have at its heart an answer to the challenge of how to include persons with disabilities. So if we talk about inclusion in all aspects I would urge that the FCDO contemplates inclusion in everything, it is not a percentage of something, it is not a certain programme focusing on inclusion, but rather a cross cutting issue across everything that becomes part and parcel of the work that we do.”

Kevin also called for disability inclusion to be part of all programmes;

“There is definitely no way we can say we are inclusive in our programmes when persons with disabilities on average experience poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities.

We know that children with disabilities are more than twice as likely to never attend school. We have education programmes, so what are they actually doing?

All FCDO funding and programming needs to include a full disability analysis, include better disaggregation, include identification of barriers for when persons with disabilities and ensure that processes and strategies for inclusion are part and parcel of our day to day mode of working instead of a tick box exercise.”

We were delighted to be able to contribute to this important inquiry, and very pleased to hear IDC Chair, Sarah Champion MP, assert the need for a closer examination of disability inclusion issues raised by the panel, and her public commitment to ‘following this up and championing change’. We keenly anticipate the findings of the upcoming report, as we continue to work for a world where all people with disabilities can achieve their full potential.

Watch the IDC evidence session [opens in new tab]