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Disability inclusion in humanitarian action
by HPN October 2020

The theme of this edition of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with Sherin Alsheikh Ahmed from Islamic Relief Worldwide, is disability inclusion in humanitarian action. Persons with disabilities are not only disproportionately impacted by conflicts, disasters and other emergencies, but also face barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance. At the same time, global commitments and standards and the IASC Guidelines on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action all emphasise how persons with disabilities are also active agents of change. Disability and age-focused organisations have led on testing and demonstrating how inclusion can be done better. Yet despite this progress, challenges to effective inclusion remain.

As Kirstin Lange notes in the lead article, chief among these challenges is humanitarian agencies’ lack of engagement with organisations of persons with disabilities. Simione Bula, Elizabeth Morgan and Teresa Thomson look at disability inclusion in humanitarian response in the Pacific, and Kathy Al Jubeh and Alradi Abdalla argue for a ‘participation revolution’, building on learning from the gender movement. Tchaurea Fleury and Sulayman AbdulMumuni Ujah outline how the Bridge Article 11 training initiative is encouraging constructive exchange between humanitarian and disability actors. The lack of good, disaggregated data is highlighted by Sarah Collinson; Frances Hill, Jim Cranshaw and Carys Hughes emphasise the need for training resources in local languages and accessible formats; and Sophie Van Eetvelt and colleagues report on a review of the evidence on inclusion of people with disabilities and older people.

Kirsty Smith analyses the findings of a review of a DFID programme in north-east Nigeria, while Carolin Funke highlights the importance of strategic partnerships between disability-focused organisations, drawing on her research in Cox’s Bazar. Sherin Alsheikh Ahmed describes Islamic Relief Worldwide’s approach to mainstreaming protection and inclusion, while Pauline Thivillier and Valentina Shafina outline IRC’s Client Responsive Programming. The edition ends with reflections by Mirela Turcanu and Yves Ngunzi Kahashi on CAFOD’s SADI approach.