38.GDS18 was widely welcomed as an important step towards disability-inclusive development. It also asserted and demonstrated DFID’s global leadership in this area. DFID announced several initiatives at the summit which then became part of its Strategy. These included:
a)a new global partnership on assistive technology—“AT Scale”—established to transform access to and affordability of life-changing devices and basic technology, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses. This would be aimed at reaching 500 million people globally by 2030 by bringing organisations together to share data and consider how best to tackle issues of innovation, affordability and availability, work that would benefit disabled people in the UK and overseas
b)a new programme—UK Aid Connect—led by charities Sightsavers and Leonard Cheshire, which would work with organisations within small communities to help disabled people into jobs in the developing world
c)a new six-year Disability in Development (DID) programme to design ways to help 100,000 disabled people to access health services, 10,000 disabled children to access education, and up to 45,000 disabled people to increase their incomes; this programme is intended to also help to improve policy-making on disability inclusion in the UK
d)an increase in DFID’s commitment to work with businesses around the globe, supporting disabled people as employers, employees and consumers
e)a World Bank-hosted ‘Inclusive Education Initiative’, to assist countries to strengthen disability-inclusive education planning, implementation, and monitoring of learning outcomes for children with disabilities by supporting and encouraging partnerships, promoting data collection, investing in teachers, and aggregating evidence of practice and solutions at scale.
39.These initiatives, and the Charter for Change signed by participant countries and organisations were also widely welcomed. There were, however, some concerns raised in our evidence which will be highlighted throughout this report under the relevant areas. The main area of concern, cutting across all areas and initiatives, was over follow up on the commitments made by DFID and other actors at GDS18. For example:
DFID needs to be accountable on these commitments. It is currently leading the development of the accountability mechanism but Motivation [a charity working on mobility solutions] feels that this needs to move to a group without a vested interest in the monitoring process. DFID would then need to be accountable, through this process, as with other organisations.
40.Christian Blind Mission UK (CBM UK) said some of the commitments were vague and therefore difficult to measure. In addition, each country and participant organisation developed their own set of commitments based on the Charter for Change. CBM UK noted that:
Whilst the freedom to create commitments provided greater ownership and buy in of stakeholders, many of the commitments were vague, poorly expressed (possibly because they had to be submitted in English) and neither specific nor measurable. We noted that commitments from national governments on women and girls with disabilities tended to be fewer and amongst the more vague commitments.
Many of the commitments, including those from DFID, focussed on pre-existing work. Similarly, other stakeholders, including the CBM federation, felt that the timeframe for submitting commitments was too short to develop new, SMART commitments that could be costed and approved through relevant decision making processes; and therefore realistic, achievable commitments needed to focus on existing direction of travel.
41.DFID is supporting a portal hosted by GDS18 summit co-hosts, the International disability Alliance, where “progress against the commitments will be monitored throughout the year and the Summit co-hosts will publish a one-year on report in September”. However, at the time of writing the portal has not been updated with any progress against commitments. There are some concerns around who is responsible for ensuring governments and other actors are regularly reporting progress on their commitments. DFID indicated that:
We are developing a longer-term approach to accountability that is led by people with disabilities, and their representative organisations and that complements established reporting mechanisms, including the SDGs and the UN CRPD. We have set-up a ‘partnership forum’ for organisations and individuals to provide views and input (consisting of 80 members). Led by the International Disability Alliance, we are developing plans for an independent secretariat and governance structure so that everyone, including DFID, is held accountable for their commitments. We plan to have this in place immediately following the one-year on report in September and to launch the initiative at the UN General Assembly.
42.CBM UK highlights the risk that the level of resources so far allocated to setting up the accountability mechanism for the GDS18 commitments “will not enable much beyond initial set up, which raises concerns about the longevity of the Summit’s legacy”. Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) suggested that:
In order to ensure effective follow-up and review of these commitments, we recommend that all those who made commitments should be asked for status updates every 6 months, and there should be a formal review process after every two years.
It may also be useful for DFID country offices to proactively support state partners to develop monitoring and implementation frameworks through existing government organs […]. VSO also recommends DFID country offices request that monitoring and implementation processes for the commitments are multi-actor and involve civil society, private sector and academia.
43.The committee commends the work of DFID on the Global Disability Summit, and its global leadership to push for disability-inclusive development. Given the recent changes in DFID’s leadership, DFID should ensure it keeps up the momentum on delivering their own summit commitments and continues taking the lead in urging other donors and actors to deliver on theirs. More specifically, DFID should develop a robust accountability mechanism that enables all actors to be held to account for making progress towards meeting their commitments.
44.The accountability mechanism for GDS18 commitments should be hosted by an independent agency and resourced in such a way as to prevent risks of conflict of interest that may be associated with receipt of programme funding from donors, DFID being no exception. This should be developed in partnership with disabled people and their representative organisations, who should also continue to play a leading role in the process of following up on Summit commitments and informing DFID’s future decisions on disability inclusion.
45.A schedule of regular reports on progress against commitments should be set. We recommend that governments and actors update their progress on the online portal on a six-monthly basis. DFID country offices could play a role in encouraging national governments to submit progress updates by the set timeline. It is important to capture lessons from the data collected to inform future planning and funding decisions. DFID should develop a specific plan on how to do so.
41 See for example Motivation Charitable Trust () and Chemonics International ()
43 Motivation Charitable Trust (). Sightsavers () also stresses the importance of DFID “adequately tracking progress against their own commitments”
44 CBM UK (), p. 5
45 Department for International Development (), p. 12
46 Committee staff-led roundtables with international organisations, 15th and 18th February 2019
47 Department for International Development (), p. 12
48 CBM UK (), p. 6
49 VSO (), P. 4
Published: 30 July 2019