Changing the disability data landscape

The Innovation to Inclusion (i2i) programme is exploring ways to improve data on disability, writes Amyn Lalji, research operations manager for pan disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

High quality data is essential in bringing about more effective employment and social protection policies for people with disabilities.

Leonard Cheshire and the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently reviewed the availability of employment and social protection data on people with disabilities in target countries Kenya and Bangladesh as part of designing the i2i programme

As researchers, we used a document review, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to examine national data collection methods and the opportunities and challenges of having good quality data on employment of persons with disabilities and access to social protection schemes.

Our study highlighted gaps and flaws in available data and the difficulties in monitoring the impact of programmes without it.

i2i — a three-year inclusive employment programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) — is striving to change this data landscape by building the capacity of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics

The programme has been working to strengthen capacity and incorporate Washington Group Questions (WGQs) — which aim to improve data with a standard global definition and method to measure disability — in the Kenyan National Census.

Initially, i2i supported the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) to hold a workshop with DPOs, government and other stakeholders to help establish a technical working group on disability and data. The group would also build the capacity of DPOs to demand and use data and on the WGQs, as well as encouraging continued engagement between KNBS and DPOs.

At a further 5-day workshop, statisticians and staff from KNBS received training on disability data analysis, led by health statistician Mitchell Loeb.

Image for post
Image for post

Representatives from i2i, ILO and United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) also attended the workshop, which included sessions on analysis of the census disability data, development of a tabulation plan for the disability monograph, cross-tabulation of the disability data with other indicators, interpreting results and report writing.

This is the first time we have worked directly with a census bureau on disability data. For i2i to be able to influence we need quality disaggregated disability data. That data can only come from the census if it has been done in the proper way using the WGQs.

When you have data of this quality, it is important to know how it can be used and that the census bureau has the capacity to do it. We have made sure they have this capacity.

Mutua Kakinyi, senior manager, data processing at KNBS, told me: ‘The workshop on disability data analysis was very useful. I can now compute different disability severity levels and produce outputs and visualisation charts.’

Pauline Swagi, of ILO Kenya, added: ‘The workshop was quite interactive. There was a realisation of the strides Kenya had made by including the WGQs but also the limitations in terms of understanding disability in children and other non-common disabilities.’

At the regular i2i webinar in April, we again focused on data for persons with disabilities, methods for identifying them and monitoring their situation in employment, taking examples from Kenya and Bangladesh.

The speakers included Robert Buluma from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, as well as Valentina Stoevska, Department of Statistics, ILO Geneva, Anderson Gitonga, UDPK, and Mark Carew, Leonard Cheshire.

More than 200 people joined the webinar, demonstrating the importance of, and increasing interest in, this aspect of disability and inclusion programming.

A lack of rigorous and comparable data often leads to an under-estimation of disability prevalence. It also masks the scale of the challenge and makes it difficult to determine if people with disabilities are benefitting or being excluded from development interventions and programmes.

The work of i2i and its partners in ensuring the availability of quality disaggregated data will be vital in helping to assess the effectiveness of the programme and other development work, policies and government initiatives in Kenya and Bangladesh now and in the future.

This blog was written with contributions from Valentina Stoevska.

International commentary from Leonard Cheshire’s academic/research team. For more stories go to:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store