This week, the International Development Committee (IDC) questioned the FCDO Minister of State for Development and Africa on the FCDO’s approach to disability-inclusive development.
Throughout the session there were numerous references to children with disabilities in his comments.
We were encouraged by the examples given of FCDO education projects which demonstrate disability-inclusive elements in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Uganda and welcome the assurance that inclusive education is an area that the FCDO ‘is ensuring real progress is made.’
The Minister rightly highlighted that ‘safeguarding and disability inclusion is incredibly important’ and we were pleased that Able Child Africa’s disability-inclusive child safeguarding guidelines were given as examples of progress in this area.
However, we echo the IDC Chair’s query on why it is not a requirement for all FCDO bilateral-funded education projects to ensure that children with disabilities are included.
Worryingly, the Minster’s response to the question posed by the Committee regarding the FCDO currently not requiring recipients of funding to explain how their work will ensure the safety of persons with disabilities was vague and offered no real commitments to make inclusive safeguarding a requirement in FCDO-funded work.
What was also concerning was the unclear response given to the Committee on the discord between ‘value for money’ requirements and a project’s ability to fully safeguard persons with disabilities. There was no clear recognition that current approaches to ‘value for money’ can put those furthest left behind at risk during delivery.
Whilst it is positive that the Minster committed to sharing specific figures both on what the FCDO is achieving and what they aim to achieve, we hope this will include ambitious targets and clear indicators for the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities alongside meaningful commitments to keeping them safe in FCDO-funded work.
We look forward to seeing follow-up from the Minister on this key area. #LeaveNoOneBehind.