Narrowing the data gap: World Bank and Microsoft commit to unlocking better development outcomes for persons with disabilities

Blog by Charlotte Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo, and Jenny Lay-Flurrie: “Across the world, persons with disabilities remain invisible in the global development agenda. One key reason is because of variances in the availability and use of disability-disaggregated data across organizations and borders.  

While it is estimated that one billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, have a disability – more data is needed to understand the true scale of the living conditions and development outcomes for persons with disabilities, and to get clarity on the degree to which persons with disabilities continue to be underserved.  

This reality is a part of what the World Bank calls the disability divide – the gap in societal inclusion for persons with disabilities in all stages of development programs, including education, employment and digital inclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this risk and exposed some of the existing inequalities faced on a regular basis. 

Many governments around the world use census data to understand a country’s socioeconomic situation and to allocate resources or consider policy to address the needs of its citizens. While every country is on their own journey to leverage data to inform policy and development outcomes, there is an opportunity to bring data on disability together for the global public good, so that groups can more accurately prioritize disability inclusion within global efforts.  

In response to this challenge, the World Bank and Microsoft, in collaboration with the Disability Data Initiative at Fordham University, are partnering to expand both access to and the use of demographics and statistics data to ensure representation of disability, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The goal of this effort is to develop a public facing, online “disability data hub” to offer information on persons with disabilities across populations, geographies and development indicators.  

Principles for the development of the hub include:  

  • Engaging with the disability community to inform the creation of the hub and its offerings. 
  • Aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which require countries to disaggregate data by disability by 2030. 
  • Taking a holistic approach to data collection on disabilities, including collating and aggregating multiple data sources, such as national household surveys and censuses. 
  • Providing a user-friendly and accessible interface for a wide range of users. 
  • Offering data analysis and accessible visualization tools. 
  • Serving as a knowledge repository by publishing trends and country profiles, offering trainings and capacity building materials and linking to relevant partner resources on disability data disaggregation…(More)”.