World Bank Cannot Consult Us and Forget Us: Disability Must be Explicitly Addressed in New World Bank Safeguards

We have been advocating to ensure that persons with disabilities are included and taken into consideration throughout all stages of the project cycle—from design, to implementation, to monitoring—since the beginning of the safeguard review process.

People sit in wheelchairs writing

Training with the disability community to prepare for the safeguard consultation in Lima, Peru February 2015

We have shared information about safeguard consultations in Peru with our friends and colleagues and have mobilized dozen of persons with disabilities to share their views. We have been in consultations, met with Executive Directors and World Bank management, and talked to those implementing projects on the ground about the importance of including disability in the safeguards. But we feel that one thing needs to be stressed as World Bank Executive Directors come together on August 4 to discuss the third and final draft of the safeguards:  disability must be explicitly referenced in binding policy. Persons with disabilities are often overlooked in projects; their particular needs are not addressed, and their voices are not taken into account. And they, then, do not share in project benefits and can be harmed by Bank projects.

Policymakers continue to tell us that we will be taken into account and that they support the rights of persons with disabilities. But we do not see that in practice in World Bank projects in Peru, where a million and a half of people with disabilities are living with high levels of poverty and exclusion despite having a legal framework that should prevent this. We have seen that without a specific reference to disability in World Bank policy, children with disabilities are left out of basic education projects and that the cycle of poverty will continue if they are not educated and able to get a job. We have seen that without a specific reference, persons with disabilities are unable to access public transportation systems, again failing to boost shared prosperity if persons with disabilities cannot get to work or to school. International cooperation must be inclusive of persons with disabilities if we want a world free of hunger and poverty, as stated in the Sustainable Development Goals. The World Bank cannot continue to let persons with disabilities be left behind. We must be named in the final safeguard policies.

Written by Silvana Queija de la Sotta, Researcher & Lawyer, Sociedad y Discapacidad – Sodis