The German Ministry of Economic Cooperation plans to promote inclusion


Inclusion in international development seem to have arrived in German international cooperation. A first draft of the „Action Plan for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in German development cooperation“ of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development for the period until 2016 floats around. A first look at it leaves a positive impression, as it addresses different aspects of direct measures and structural improvements. This is already visible in the overall objective. The elaboration process elaboration of this action plan has been criticised beforehand by civil society organizations. Still the outcome of the plan seems to be reasonable compared to similar plans of other states (e.g. the Australian plan).

The goal

The overall objective states

Ensure that a systematic, cross cutting implementation of inclusion of persons with disabilities in German international development politics is guaranteed.

Further explanation underline that inclusion should not just be limited to a specific sector but be addressed by all sectors of the ministry and implementing agencies. This positive statement occurs throughout the draft of the Action Plan.

The background section of the draft action plan refers to a couple of core concepts

  • Inclusion is a human rights issue
  • Persons with disabilities are a heterogeneous group
  • Accessibility is one of the most important preconditions
  • A twin track approach is chosen
  • Persons with disabilities participate in all decisions that concern them
  • Inclusion diss not happen automatically but requires clear structures, processes and responsibilities
  • Various social actors must contribute
  • Inclusion is far more than prevention

These elaborations already show the reflection processes and consultations beforehand. Points of criticism might be that poverty as well as community based rehabilitation have not be mentioned, focus on good practice and support to international networks is lacking. The core concepts of the action plan focus still on the tradition of north to south development and not yet on a true exchange between countries, as even inclusion in Germany is not a strength but a slow emerging issue.

The long term static strategic goals

On the implementation side three main goals have been identified that are explained in detail

  1. Creating good practice within state development organisations: within the ministry and the implementing agencies inclusion shall be promoted. This includes inclusive human resources management and physical as well as communication accessibility.
  2. Support to inclusion in selected partner countries: strategic standards, monitoring and evaluation shall be applied. Persons with disabilities should directly be involved
  3. Cooperation with other actors at international level as well as with private and civil society actors.

On the road to inclusion

Three central instruments have been identified to make this action plan work. Funny thing here is that these are just the core instruments for international cooperation. These are state development cooperation, non-state development cooperation and multilateral development cooperation. Within the draft it was not specified how these instruments should be used to promote inclusion. This seems to be a weak point in the action plan and should still be addressed further.

What stays

We still have to wait for the final version of the action plan and how it will be applied. Still the character of this plan is not entirely clear in German development cooperation. A quick search on the ministry website only one action plan could be found. There are references to persons with disabilities on the German section of the BMZ but not on the respective English translation of the same website, which already raises questions.