Over the past year, Paul Dillon (senior associate at Baird’s CMC) has taken on the communications challenge related to disability in the context of development. He has been working closely with a UK-based organisation that represents numerous disability groups. The organisation also has an interest in disability perception and rights within the wider global community.
“I have learned a lot in the last few months. It is estimated that there are 650-700 million people with disabilities in the world – that is about 10 percent of the global population. Eighty percent of these people live in developed countries, and 82 percent of those are living below the poverty line,” says Paul. “Now, ten percent of the world’s population is absolutely enormous, and this group of people is hugely disadvantaged in terms of both poverty and disability. There is a complex relationship between poverty and disability. That there is a correlation is undeniable, but which way does the causal relationship occur? Poverty causing disability, or disability causing poverty? Or both, depending on the context? In addition to that, there are the attitudes of governments and communities, the politics of inclusion-exclusion, the impact on literacy…it’s an extremely interesting and relevant area.”
In 2008, we saw the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which marked an enormous step forward with regard to the rights and awareness of people living with disabilities. The Convention also pays particular attention to the link between poverty and disability.
As regards funding, most disability organisations receive a majority of their funding from governments. However, due to the massive reduction in budgets, they are seeing a dip in state funding and are finding it increasingly difficult to provide their services. The challenges ahead include redefining their roles, business structures and organisations – perhaps even generating new streams of revenue from completely different sources, nationally as well as globally. In a global context, it is imperative to ensure that a percentage of the funding for aid and sustainable development makes its way to the area of disability, where the need is great.
“A new global development phase is around the corner. These 650 million people are going to be very interested in how their needs are going to be supported, addressed and helped. The ratification of the UN Convention is a big step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go,” explains Paul. “We will be watching developments in this area closely, both in terms of governments making sure to include this in their consideration of sustainable development as well as corporations looking at their roles and responsibilities in this regard.”