Anchoring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international cooperation

Project description

Title: Sector project on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2016 to 2019



There are more than 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide and over 80% live in the world’s poorest countries. Many of them are unable to live a dignified life due to a lack of awareness, indifference or even social ostracism.

Disability can lead to poverty and vice versa. In fact, around half of all disabilities could be avoided and are directly attributable to poverty. Persons with disabilities seldom have access to education, jobs, social services or health services, and are therefore particularly affected by poverty.

Numerous barriers, for instance in infrastructure, in the judicial system and in information provision, combined with the tendency to stigmatise disabled persons, prevent them from participating on an equal basis in society. Due to the fact that they face discrimination in more than one respect, women, children, young persons and refugees with disabilities are the most disadvantaged groups worldwide. Despite this, persons with disabilities are rarely the focus of international cooperation.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) obliges its member states, including Germany since 2009, to design their development cooperation to be inclusive. In 2013, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) published a plan of action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Germany is therefore following a central principle of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, namely to ‘leave no one behind’. This describes the requirement that the Agenda goals can only be considered to have been reached if they are also fully accessible for persons with disabilities.


BMZ, its implementing organisations and partners take the inclusion of persons with disabilities into greater consideration in development activities.



The project is being implemented on a global scale, across topics and with gender sensitivity. It advises BMZ, its implementing organisations and partners in five focus areas.

In the area of inclusion strategy, the project advises BMZ on developing and implementing a new cross-sectoral strategy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in German development cooperation. The project supports the inclusion of disabled persons in the partner countries and projects of German development cooperation. In addition, it develops sector-specific contributions with which BMZ can promote inclusion in international negotiation processes and networks. The project strengthens the capacities of disabled people’s organisations worldwide and allows them to participate on an equal basis in German development cooperation processes. 

A further focus is on Africa, where the project works in close cooperation with Finland to support the African Union Commission in developing and implementing a continental strategy and architecture to strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities.



In close cooperation with civil society and disabled people’s organisations, BMZ has developed a new cross-sectoral strategy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development cooperation.

The project has developed training and information materials, guidelines, best practices and studies on facilitating disability inclusion that are used by both BMZ and the implementing organisations.

The number of projects related to inclusion has risen steadily since 2009. At present, there are around 90 projects worldwide that take account of the specific needs and skills of persons with disabilities. Cooperation between German development cooperation projects and disabled people’s organisations also continues to increase.

Germany is actively involved in the Global Action on Disability network and the annual member state conference on the CRPD.

The African Union has adopted a protocol on the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa. A new continental strategy lays down the framework for disability inclusion in Africa.