Three Questions on Commitments

The Disability Rights Fund asked Lorraine Wapling, a DRF/DRAF Board member, to share her insights about the Global Disability Summit (GDS18) commitments. Lorraine was embedded in DFID’s policy and research department as their disability specialist for several years, helping to lay the foundations for DFID’s current disability framework and has and worked on assignments for DFAT (Australian Aid), the UN and the European Union.

Lorraine Wapling

Disability Rights Fund: What are the main challenges facing countries in implementing the GDS18 commitments?

Lorraine Wapling: Our Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) researchers found several challenges facing governments in implementing their commitments. Sometimes commitments had been made by officials who have subsequently moved office and have not briefed in-coming officials. As a result, there can be a lack of awareness about commitments made. Some commitments were extremely ambitious and whilst that is welcome, it doesn’t always prove realistic in the absence of appropriate funding and resources. GDS18 commitments can prove difficult to progress without clear action plans and funding. Some commitments require several parts of government working together which can be difficult to achieve, although with good planning this can be a positive experience. There can be a lack of skills and technical knowledge to implement commitments which means it will likely take longer to achieve than first thought.

Disability Rights Fund: What progress have you seen in the one year since the Global Disability Summit?

Lorraine Wapling: That’s a little tricky to answer. In having worked on the GDS18 “One Year On” report, I have been quite lucky to have become quite familiar with the commitments. It’s probably made me more aware of and sensitive to reports around GDS18 than others in the sector who have not been so closely involved. I do think though that GDS18 was politically quite significant – for the UN it has helped stimulate finalisation of a much-needed Disability Inclusion Strategy, and many UN agencies seem to be paying disability more attention. In Kenya the government seems to have really got behind GDS18 and the disability movement there is reporting much closer engagement and a motivation on the part of government to actually implement inclusive policies and strategies. I think too that DFID has shown leadership in promoting more disability-inclusive programming with its Disability Strategy which includes a set of Minimum Standards for inclusion expected of all its country offices and programmes. So, I think there is lots to be positive about as long as the momentum can be maintained and people with disabilities can be supported to become increasingly active in monitoring achievement of the commitments.

Disability Rights Fund:  What can donors do to contribute towards the implementation of the commitments made at the Global Disability Summit?

Lorraine Wapling: There are several ways in which donors could assist in the implementation of GDS18 commitments. It’s important that donors look out for programmes to support which focus on assisting governments in particular to meet their commitments. They should definitely encourage programmes that pay attention to these commitments. The DRF/DRAF for example is supporting a small number of national coalitions in Commonwealth countries to use the GDS18 commitments as part of their ongoing advocacy with government. GDS18 commitments often overlap with CRPD obligations so they can provide the disability movement with new momentum for holding governments to account. Of course, many donors made their own GDS18 commitments so it would also be good for them to be open in reporting their progress and encourage the donor sector to do more to support disability-inclusive development.