Journal Article

No One Left Behind: A review of social protection and disability at the World Bank

Date Published

Jan 1, 2017


Valerie L. Karr, Ashley van Edema, Jacob Sims, Callie Brusegaard


Disability and the Global South


Karr, V. L., Van Edema, A., Sims, J., & Brusegaard, C. (2017). No One Left Behind: A review of social protection and disability at the World Bank. Disability and the Global South, 4(1), 1112-1142. Retrieved from


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cites poverty eradication as both the Ôgreatest global challengeÕ and an Ôindispensable requirementÕ for sustainable development (UN, 2015). Unfortunately, the path between discourse and practice is rarely clear. This is especially true for the estimated one billion people with disabilities around the globe who face barriers and challenges to inclusion in mainstream development efforts; and for whom disability-specific projects and interventions are far and few between. This paper responds to the lack of available data focused on tracking the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream poverty reduction efforts. It reports on work by a multidisciplinary research team in developing and piloting a methodology measuring disability inclusive investments in the World BankÕs active portfolio. The paper focuses specifically on the World BankÕs social protection portfolio, aligned with SDG 1 (End Poverty), and outlines a methodology for analysing project-level documentation, using key word searches, and codes aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals to determine the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Findings indicate that only a small percentage, 5%, of the World BankÕs active social protection portfolio explicitly include persons with disabilities as target beneficiaries. It goes on to argue that this dearth in disability inclusive development efforts exposes a vital need to systematically include the needs of this population in the planning for, provision of, and assessment of development assistance efforts. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for ensuring future projects are inclusive from program development and implementation through to assessment of outcomes.

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