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Development Account Projects

Improvement of Disability Measurement and Statistics in Support of the Biwako Millennium Framework and Regional Census Programme


Despite recent efforts and progress, disability statistics in most countries in Asia and the Pacific remain severely underdeveloped. The Biwako Millennium Framework for Action (BMF) calls for significant improvements in the availability, quality, comparability and policy relevance of disability statistics in the region. It is imperative to develop a unifying international approach for data collection through censuses and surveys, and to increase national political commitment and technical capacity to collect and disseminate better disability statistics.

Built upon the outcome of the previous ESCAP/WHO disability project conducted in 2004-06, this project aims to contribute directly to the improvement of disability statistics for formulating and evaluating national disability policies and programmes in support of the BMF in the region. It will combine development of standard measurements for disability data collection through pilot studies and analyses, with in-country advocacy workshops to raise awareness and commitment among a wide range of stakeholders, targeted training of statistical experts and health professionals to improve their technical capacity, country advisory services to support national data collection efforts, and the promotion of country-to-country cooperation and knowledge sharing.  


National disability policies and programmes, following the BMF and other international development goals, are developed, implemented and monitored on the basis of improved disability statistics in the Asian and Pacific Region.    

Expected Accomplishments:

  • NSOs, health professionals, and policy makers in the region have an improved understanding of the ICF (the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) approach to disability measurement and how to manage its implementation.

  • Increased national technical capacity for collecting disability statistics in accordance with ICF standards and regional guidelines for national censuses and surveys, which also reflect gender concerns.

  • Stronger cooperation among ESCAP members in the field of disability statistics.

Implementation Status:

The project generated four tangible outcomes. First, it generated an increased interest and momentum among National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in moving from a medical approach for measuring disability, to a method closer to the social model embodied in WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Participants in the regional workshop ‘Promoting Disability Data Collection through Censuses’ expressed a strong need for the use of WHO’s ICF approach to measure disability. Similarly, in-country workshops generated increased awareness and understanding on how to improve disability data collection at the national level.

Second, targeted training of statistical experts in methods for questionnaire design, as well as on cognitive and pilot testing, improved national technical expertise not only for improving the measurement of disability, but even more, on the processes required for the effective design of questionnaires to collect data in other areas of statistics. Third, advisory missions to countries as well the sharing of the project’s results with other global enterprises such as the Budapest Initiative (BI) contributed to the support of national and international data collection efforts on disability.

Fourth, the project succeeded in developing a large knowledge base on the subject by developing a set of tools and guidelines on how to conduct cognitive and pilot testing related to disability statistics for non-participating NSOs and other stakeholders wanting to replicate the project’s experience and results. Project countries also improved their analytical skills documenting their overall experience and in analyzing the results of the tests. Moreover, participating countries, in close collaboration with international partners, produced a final analytical report with specific recommendations on what questions can and should be used in an extended question set for surveys.

Overall, the project achieved the outlined objectives and countries as well as partners involved in the process welcomed the work led by ESCAP in not only contributing to the improvement of disability measurement at the national level, but also to the overall global agenda led by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG). The knowledge, training materials and expertise created through this Development Account project will thus contribute to increase South-South cooperation and to improve disability measurement in Asia-Pacific and other regions.

Project Resources: www.unescap.org/stat/disability

The Budapest Initiative is a collaborative effort involving European national statistical offices and international organizations working on developing internationally comparable measures of health states.