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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



The World Bank and Disability

                                                           Notes Regarding this Site


   Defining Disability

   Defining what is meant by disability is sometimes a complex process, as disability is more than a description of a specific health issue; rather it is affected by people's cultures, social institutions, and physical environments. The current international guide is the World Health Organization's discussion and classification within ICF: International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. ICF presents a framework which encompasses the complex multifaceted interaction between health conditions and personal and environmental factors that determine the extent of disablement in any given situation.

   Disability Estimates

   Although it is sometimes difficult to define disability, effort has been made to determine the number of persons living with a disability. Although estimates from developing countries are rough, disability may affect as much as 10 percent of the world's population. The number of persons with disabilities is expected to grow because of two trends—increased aging and violent conflict—both of which are highly correlated with disability


   An Economic Approach

   For this reason and the fact that persons with disabilities are an underserved group in most developing countries, there are economic and social benefits to increasing the participation of and opportunities for persons with disabilities in society. Although the link is not well documented, disability in the household can lead to poverty because persons with disabilities are often excluded from school or the workplace and may depend—particularly children—on others in the family for care. Disabled people are also at risk of social exclusion.

      Including persons with disabilities in development strategies and projects has been broadly perceived as a human rights issue, whereas the human capital and poverty dimensions of disability—reduced productivity and increased incidence of poverty of persons with disabilities and their caregivers—have largely been ignored. These dimensions are equally important and are central to the World Bank's mission. For further analysis of the links between disability and poverty, please see Poverty and Disability: A Survey of the Literature.

   World Bank Activities

   The Bank is developing and extending its products and services to help its clients meet this development challenge. There is a growing portfolio of Bank projects which include persons with disabilities Increasing the quality of such projects is a high priority, and will be accomplished through the collection of information on good practice in development assistance for disabled persons and distribution of this information in supports for project design. Bank-supported knowledge resources (provided on-line) complement these activities.


   Internally, a working group has been established to identify initiatives to create a more supportive environment for staff with disabilities. In conjunction with this effort and to be more accessible to its disabled clients and partners, improvements are being made to Bank offices to increase access of the physically disabled

   Directions for the Future

   The Bank will continue to strengthen its efforts in partnership with clients and other organizations to build and disseminate good practices in order to help countries achieve the goals of access, inclusion, and poverty reduction of persons with disabilities. The Bank also will work to identify the economic consequences of disability, beginning with a survey of current information in the field.