Game-changing new data on disability-inclusive Official Development Assistance – and how to get at it


by Polly Meeks

Official Development Assistance (ODA – also known as aid) has huge potential as a resource to realise the rights of persons with disabilities.

While national governments have primary responsibility for allocating budgets that uphold the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), other states’ policies on financing for development also have a role to play. This includes ODA: its scale (153 billion US dollars in 2019 alone) and – at least in principle – its sensitivity to the rights of persons with disabilities mean it can be an important complement to national resources in the short term. In fact, research in some countries has found ODA to be a much bigger source of finance for the rights of persons with disabilities than domestic government budgets. With the COVID crisis urgently calling for additional public resources to ensure a disability-inclusive response and recovery, access to CRPD-compliant ODA is now more pressing than ever.

Cover of the new guide

But is ODA delivering on its potential as a resource to realise the CRPD? This year for the first time, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s has released data that gives important insights into this question. The OECD’s ODA database now contains a ‘disability marker’,
which allows individual items of ODA spending to be classified depending on whether or not they aim to be disability inclusive. Now, for any bilateral ODA provider and for any country receiving ODA, advocates can go to a single respected source, and analyse how much ODA was reported as being disability-inclusive. This could be a game-changer for accountability – but only if advocates from the disability movement make the most of the new data.

To help with this, CIP is launching a short guide on ‘Getting the data’ (WordPDF). The guide gives step-by-step advice on how to use the OECD’s ODA database; how to do basic analysis on the data; and how to recognise the limitations and strengths of the data when presenting the results. We chose to publish this initial version of the guide at an early stage, to support advocates to access the new data in its first year. But because the disability marker is new, its use is evolving fast.

We will release a revised and enhanced version of the guide in 2021, to take into account the possible developments as OECD expects to publish more detailed reporting advice on the disability marker in late 2020.

One major weakness of the OECD’s database is that it is not accessible for screen-reader users. To work around this, we have reached out to web accessibility experts in the disability movement, to look into developing an alternative way for screen-reader users to access the data, outside what the OECD currently makes possible. We will include an update on this work in the next version of the guide.

If you have any feedback, please feel free to get in touch with Polly Meeks, who authored the guide, on: We want to make the guide as useful as possible to advocates in the disability movement around the world, in their work to ensure all public resources – including ODA – live up to their full potential for the rights of persons with disabilities.

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