Making international cooperation work for persons with disabilities

Project description

Title: Global project on inclusion of persons with disabilities
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are more than one billion persons in the world with disabilities, and roughly 80 per cent live in developing countries and emerging economies. The inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream life and the removal of barriers hold great potential for economic and social development and are beneficial for all. The International Labour Organization has emphasised that schooling and vocational training are the most effective means of promoting the participation of disabled persons in economic and social life. This enables them to support themselves and their families and to lead independent lives. It also contributes to social progress. Many technology advancements that improve the lives of persons with disabilities, such as text messaging and speech recognition software, are also beneficial for all members of society.

At present, however, these opportunities have largely remained unused. Persons with disabilities often have no access to education, the labour market, health systems, social security programmes or financial services. In developing countries, for example, only 46 per cent of boys with disabilities and 33 per cent of the girls finish primary school. And only about 20 per cent of women with disabilities worldwide have paid jobs. As a consequence, persons with disabilities often live in poverty. Moreover, about half of all disabilities are the direct result of poverty and thus avoidable.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) places the signatory states, including Germany, under an obligation to emphasise inclusion in their development cooperation. Germany will be able to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and its guiding principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ only through inclusive development cooperation. In 2019, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) therefore adopted a new, broad-based strategy aimed at ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all areas of German development cooperation. This strategy was also pursued in a previous project, and the new project will build on the results achieved.


BMZ and its implementing organisations aim to step up their work to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities in their development activities. 

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The project focuses on fostering awareness and communication in development work. It applies innovative approaches in areas such as digitalisation, training, employment, urban development and local development.

The project has a worldwide reach, addresses a broad range of topics, and is sensitive to gender issues. There are four areas of focus:

  • The project provides BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) with services that promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in order to raise awareness and spread information. 
  • It advises BMZ on implementing gender-sensitive inclusion in development policy.
  • It provides implementing organisations and German development cooperation partners with proven forms of consultation and dialogue.
  • It promotes the development and implementation of gender-sensitive measures and the piloting of innovative approaches to inclusion of persons with disabilities in selected partner countries.

All project measures are actively supported by persons with disabilities in their role as ‘protagonists of change’.

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  • In cooperation with civil society organisations, BMZ developed a new strategy for inclusion of persons with disabilities, which was published in December 2019.
  • Approximately 115 German technical cooperation projects throughout the world are contributing to the inclusion of persons with disabilities (as of May 2020).
  • In some partner countries, organisations representing persons with disabilities are actively involved in the work of GIZ.
  • Germany is participating in international processes like the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD, the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network and the European Disability Forum.
  • In cooperation with the private sector companies AmaliTech and getINNOtized, the project is implementing inclusive approaches to recruitment and vocational training of young men and women with disabilities in Ghana. As a result, five per cent of the persons recruited for IT training were persons with disabilities.


Further Information