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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality
Theme: Statistics, Data and Evaluation, and Monitoring
Programme Monitoring and Evaluation; The Disability Perspective in the Context of Development

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A. Basic monitoring parameters established by the World Programme of Action

As noted earlier, virtually all of the United Nations initiatives in the field of disability have called for monitoring. Few, however, have provided detailed specifications for monitoring activities. As a result, monitoring activities over time have not followed a uniform format, let alone measure results against a common set of criteria.

The World Programme of Action provides certain parameters for monitoring and evaluation.[131] First, criteria for monitoring and evaluation are stated to be "full participation of persons with disabilities" and "equality". Second, monitoring is to be periodic at international, national and regional levels. Third, both the situation of disabled persons and programmes for disabled persons are to be assessed. Fourth, the Statistical Office, now the Statistics Division is given a leadership role to develop a realistic and practical data system. Finally, the United Nations Secretariat - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - is to select a specific set of evaluation indicators. Each one of these parameters presents important issues.

First, there are not clear criteria for full participation and equality. In establishing target areas for equal participation, the Standard Rules build upon the areas originally identified in the Programme and provide areas in which full participation and equality can be assessed. However, the Standard Rules do not provide uniform measures for determining progress towards full participation and equity in the target areas.

Second, the periodicity of monitoring, along with the call for the establishment of baselines, does imply that measures that are uniform across time and across countries should be established. This may present difficulties, both in terms of obtaining international acceptance of measures, as well as just technical problems in ensuring comparability. Indeed, these problems have probably contributed to the current lack of uniform measures.

Third, the distinction between evaluation of the situation of disabled persons as opposed to that of programmes is an important one. At the micro-level, it is possible for programme evaluations to indicate success based on programme criteria, even as the overall situation for persons with disabilities remains unchanged or worsens, due to more substantial non-programmatic factions. Indeed, the incorporation of disability issues into broader human rights frameworks implies recognition of this possibility. Thus, not only must both the disabled persons' situations and their programmes be evaluated but the interplay between the two must be more fully understood.

Fourth, there is an important distinction between the monitoring activities that are specifically related to monitoring the World Programme of Action or other programmes and those ongoing monitoring activities that are conducted by the Statistics Division in which disability is but one of the areas in which data are gathered. Data gathered on disability have a variety of purposes, of which the World Programme monitoring and evaluation is one. Such data have great use in evaluating the situation of disabled persons over time, but have a less direct relation with programme efficacy.

Finally, as noted earlier, selected indicators would constitute only one set of data to be employed to monitor a programme. They might indicate programme success but they would not, in and of themselves, tell the whole story. It is critical to first explore monitoring and data issues independently of the selection of a set of indicators.

Prior to exploring options for monitoring as delineated by these parameters, it is useful to assess the current situation related to monitoring. A historical review of developments related to data and monitoring during the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons was already presented in Section II, above. The next section presents an evaluation of the progress since the United Nations Decade towards and obstacles to the establishment of an international monitoring system for the World Programme of Action. Then, based on the current situation and the parameters outlined in the Programme, the Standard Rules and the Long-term Strategy, specific issues in choosing between options for monitoring are presented. Finally, some basic issues related to the collection of data for monitoring are discussed.


[131] World Programme of Action …, paras 194-198.

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development