How can the ADB better safeguard persons with disabilities and include them in project benefits?

As the Asian Development Bank (ADB) undergoes a review of its 2009 Safeguards Policy Statement (SPS), it has an opportunity to enhance protections for persons with disabilities in ADB-financed projects. We recommend that the updated SPS systematically integrates disability throughout all safeguards requirements so that the ADB is better equipped to address risks, prevent harm, and promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) current Safeguards Policy Statement (SPS) of 2009 does not mention persons with disabilities. This means the ADB and its clients are not legally bound to include persons with disabilities in consultations throughout the project cycle nor address the specific risks persons with disabilities face and the harms that ADB-financed projects may cause. As the SPS informs and directs the management of project-related risks, the current SPS review is an important opportunity for the ADB to adopt inclusive policies that prevent additional barriers to participation and promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. 

BIC, and several of our partners, Access Bangladesh Foundation, Life Haven Center for Independent Living in the Philippines, Ohana in Indonesia, and Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal (TPO Nepal), are calling on the ADB to integrate disability inclusion throughout all safeguards requirements. The systematic and cross-cutting integration of disability across safeguards will better enable the ADB to understand and address the different risks and barriers to project benefits faced by persons with disabilities in the development agenda. Integrating disability from the design stage of a project will both enhance disability inclusion and increase the efficiency of the project by designing them in ways that are accessible, rather than having to retrofit them down the road. 

The ADB cannot fulfill its mission and eradicate extreme poverty if it excludes persons with disabilities from the projects it finances or further entrenches existing inequalities. To strengthen disability protections and inclusion measures, the updated SPS should: 

  1. Explicitly mention persons with disabilities in the ‘vulnerable groups’ category wherever mentioned in the SPS. 
  2. Promote non-discrimination and the inclusion of persons with disabilities during the entire project cycle. 
  3. Require all project documents, particularly those relevant to Grievance Redress Mechanisms, to include specific details around the accessibility measures that the Borrower needs to use to address the different needs of persons with disabilities. 
  4. Assess the unique and differentiated impacts of ADB projects on persons with disabilities. 

To learn more about the specifics of our SPS disability recommendations, please read our policy brief.