Development and human rights for all

Monitoring and Evaluation of Inclusive Development: Data and Statistics

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The lack of data and information on disability and the situation of persons with disabilities at the national level contributes to the invisibility of persons with disabilities in official statistics, presenting an obstacle to achieving development planning and implementation that is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

The UN General Assembly has stressed in several resolutions the importance of improving disability data and statistics. In particular, to be internationally comparable, data should be collected in line with international standards. The Washington Group on Disability Statistics, a group which operated under the aegis of the UN Statistical Commission, has developed an internationally comparable set of questions for census and surveys. Data collected with these questions will be useful to assist the monitoring of development goals for persons with disabilities.

Current guidelines to collect disability data

Washington Group questions for surveys and censuses

In 2014, the UN Statistics Commission acknowledged the accomplishments of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics. These accomplishments include a set of six questions which can be included in national censuses and surveys to collect data on persons with disabilities.

Recommendations for censuses

On 10 June 2015, the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution entitled “2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme” (E/CN.3/2015/6). This resolution stresses that population and housing censuses are designed to generate valuable statistics and indicators for assessing the situations of persons with disabilities. The latest recommendations to collect data on persons with disabilities in censuses are presented in the Principle & Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses (Rev 2), p.178.

Worldwide use of Washington Group questions

Data gathered through the Washington Group questions in censuses and surveys will be useful to monitor the SDGs on education and employment which include targets for children and persons with disabilities.

The following countries/territories have included Washington Group questions in their last census:

Albania (2011), American Samoa (2010), Aruba (2010), Belize (2010), Brazil (2010), Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2008), Guam (2010), Indonesia (2010), Israel (2008), Italy (2012), Jamaica (2010), Marshal Island (2011), Mauritius (2011), Micronesia (2010), Nauru (2011), Northern Mariana Islands (2010), Qatar (2010), Romania (2011), Saint Lucia (2010), Senegal (2013), Serbia (2011), Solomon Islands (2009), South Africa (2011), Sri Lanka (2012), State of Palestine (2007), Timor-Leste (2010), Tonga (2009), Trinidad and Tobago (2011), Turkey (2011), United States of America (2010), United States Virgin Islands (2010), Vanuatu (2009), and Viet Nam (2009).

Source: UN Statistics Division and Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Updates to this list can be sent to: martinho@un.org

Collecting data on children with disabilities

UNICEF and the Washington Group on Disability Statistics are currently developing a set of questions to collect data on children with disabilities in surveys. 

Past meetings on disability data, statistics, monitoring and evaluation

UN resolutions on disability monitoring and evaluation, data and statistics

  • ECOSOC resolution “2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme” E/CN.3/2015/6
    This resolution by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) stresses that population and housing censuses are designed to generate valuable statistics and indicators for assessing the situations of persons with disabilities.
  • General Assembly Resolution A/RES/65/186
    Resolution 65/186 calls upon Governments to strengthen the collection and compilation of national data and information about the situation of persons with disabilities following existing guidelines on disability statistics that are disaggregated by sex and age, which could be used by Governments to enable their development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation to be disability sensitive, in particular in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities, and invites Governments to provide, where available, relevant data and statistics to the appropriate mechanisms within the United Nations system, including the Statistical Commission.
  • General Assembly Resolution  A/RES/64/131 
    In this resolution, the General Assembly calls on Governments to build a knowledge base of data and information about the situation of persons with disabilities, which could be used to facilitate disability-sensitive development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation. Particular attention is paid to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities, and in this regard the Assembly:
    (a) Requests the Secretary-General to disseminate widely and promote the use of the Guidelines and Principles for the Development of Disability Statistics and thePrinciples and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses and to facilitate technical assistance, within existing resources, including the provision of assistance for capacity-building of Member States, in particular to developing countries.
    (b) Encourages Member States to make use of statistics, to the extent possible, to integrate a disability perspective in reviewing their progress towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals for all.
  • General Assembly Resolution  A/RES/63/150
    This resolution requests the Secretary-General to give higher priority to the concerns of, and issues related to, persons with disabilities, as well as their inclusion within the work programme of the United Nations system in order to ensure that the 2010 World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses is inclusive of the perspective of persons with disabilities.

Key publications

Key websites

Other resources

  • Demographic Yearbook Questionnaire on Human Functioning and Disability Statistics (2006 version, English only) (ad hoc) Doc PDF Excel, UN Statistics Division, DESA