Why is social protection vital to ensure that no person with a disability is left behind?

The webinar titled, Why is social protection vital to ensure that no person with a disability is left behind?, took place on 25 January 2018, addressing themes surrounding labour market programmes, productive inclusion, social protection systems, and targeting. It provided evidence from countries including Vietnam, Malawi, Nepal and South Africa. The webinar was hosted by socialprotection.org and organised by Development Pathways.

The webinar was presented by Stephen Kidd, (Senior Social Policy Specialist, Development Pathways) and Morgan Banks (Research Fellow, the International Centre for Evidence in Disability, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine). Alexandra Barrantes (Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways) served as moderator of the event. The recording is available here and the presentation here.

Disability and development

Stephen Kidd opened the webinar, explaining how disability is often ignored by social and economic development policies, often leading to higher rates of poverty. Fifteen percent of the world’s population has a disability, including 46% of older persons and 5.1% of children. The design and implementation of social protection schemes should be disability sensitive. However, only a very small number of countries have managed to build social protection systems that are inclusive of persons with disabilities.

Risks and challenges:

The webinar began with detailed information regarding the risks and challenges faced by persons with disabilities. This qualitative information was presented in a lifecycle diagram, including: early childhood, school age, youth, working age and old age. Using these stages, Kidd introduced the corresponding classification of social protection schemes from a disability perspective.

A categorisation of social protection with a focus on persons with a disability

  1. Promoting inclusion

Kidd explained that, to maximise inclusivity, it is crucial to build inclusive lifecycle social protection systems that include disability specific schemes such as disability benefits for working age adults and children and disability-relevant schemes such as old age pensions. South Africa has achieved relatively high inclusion of persons with disabilities using these types of schemes.

  1. Targeting: Malawi

With the main focus of the webinar being on the link between disabilities and poverty, targeting was highlighted to reveal how poverty-targeted schemes exclude many persons with disabilities living in poverty. While proxy means test are often used for targeting, an example was given from Malawi on how many persons with disabilities living in poverty are excluded by the PMT (see diagram below). In reality, the best way to include persons with disability in social protection schemes is to increase coverage, with universal schemes being the most inclusive. 

  1. Benefit level: Nepal

The second speaker, Morgan Banks addressed the adequacy of benefits using relevant case studies to support her presentation. The first case study was based on Nepal, detailing the targeting process. In order to receive any benefits, a disability card is required. The colour of the card determines what the beneficiary is eligible for. Receiving the card is based on an assessment of disability. Benefit packages are graded according to the colour of the card, with red indicating the highest level of transfer (120USD per year), although people with less severe disabilities can receive other benefits, such as educational support, transportation discounts, livelihoods support, and healthcare discounts.

  1. Access

Access to social protection in Nepal:

  • 198,788 people receive a disability card and 62,320 people receive a Disability Allowance.
  • Using the 2011 Census, disability prevalence is 1.9% - which is likely to be a severe underestimate – but, according to this, then 37% of persons with disabilities have a disability card.
  • There is also 12% coverage for the Disability Allowance, despite it being universal

Access to social protection in Vietnam  

  • More than 700,000 people receive the Disability Allowance (and health insurance).
  • There is 42% coverage of people with severe disabilities.

Banks highlighted how coverage is very high for children and lower for the elderly in both Nepal and Vietnam. The elderly can access an old age allowance in Vietnam, althought they cannot also receive the disability benefit. There is no gender discrimination in the coverage of benefits.

Factors affecting access to disability-targeted benefits:

  1. Geographic accessibility
  2. Financial accessibility
  3. General application procedures
  4. Disability assessment procedures
  5. Attitude towards disability
  6. Awareness of utility  

Both Nepal and Vietnam have strong political will to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in social protection schemes, providing a wide range of programmes to target different drivers of poverty and exclusion. To improve access, organisations need to address geographic, financial and informational barriers, as well as disability assessment.

To ensure no one is left behind, quality disability sensitive schemes need to be designed and implemented. In this regard, it is important to increase the participation of people with disabilities throughout the stages of design, implementation and monitoring of disability sensitive social protection policies and programmes.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
Social Protection Topics: 
  • Universal Social Protection
  • Malawi
  • South Africa
  • Nepal
  • Vietnam
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not socialprotection.org's