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Human rights

Inclusion of persons with disabilities – a key principle in Germany’s development policy


Boys with club feet in a hospital of Dar Es Salam, Tanzania.

People with disabilities have not always been able to benefit as much from development cooperation projects as others. This is partly because they are often amongst the poorest members of society, who are generally difficult to reach. Also they tend to be excluded from society, which means that development projects overlook them too. They can only participate and benefit from the projects if a conscious effort is made to incorporate their rights and needs into the development cooperation agenda.

It was this that prompted the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to publish its own action plan in 2013 the "Action Plan for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (2013–2015)". That plan has now been extended for another two years, taking it up to 2017. Its purpose was to lay the foundations, over this timeframe, for mainstreaming the interests of persons with disabilities in development cooperation.

New strategy

The German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) evaluated the Action Plan in 2017. Its findings will form the basis of a new strategy; work on it began in the autumn of 2017. It focuses on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in German development cooperation across all sectors. The BMZ is being supported in that effort by, for example, civil society and advocacy groups.

In 2018, a public consultation is also to take place, allowing people with disabilities to get even more involved. BMZ is therefore formulating its policies in line with the principle of "nothing about us without us".


Two-pronged approach

The BMZ takes a two-pronged approach. One is to support projects specifically aimed at people with disabilities. The other is to ensure that all other development cooperation projects reflect their needs and interests too and that the structural causes of social inequality are addressed.

The main focuses are poverty reduction, human rights, education and employment, health, social protection, sustainable economic development, rural development and transitional development assistance.

As well as cooperating bilaterally with individual countries, the BMZ is also joining forces internationally with others to campaign for more inclusion. It is, for example, actively engaged in the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) network and is also on its steering committee.


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