In region Global and in group Global Shelter Cluster



GSC Online Meeting 2020: Disability Inclusion WG Update


The GSC WG on Disability Inclusion updated on the progress achieved. 

Key takeaways from the prioritised topics were:  

Inclusion of persons with disabilities in shelter and settlements programming - thinking beyond physical access

  • Links between inadequate housing and physical health are pretty obvious, yet are still poorly understood. We don’t know enough about how shelter improvements lead to health improvements and knowledge about inadequate shelter and mental health impacts are even less well understood.
  • Mental health issues are less visible and have often been ignored/excluded – often due to simple ignorance of the issues. Specific examples of issues that can create mental ill-health include tenure insecurity, loss of livelihoods and the whole process of displacement itself. There are a number of areas for programming to be aware of eg. what impact does trauma/ displacement have on existing mental health conditions, how trauma/ displacement can cause new mental health conditions and whether humanitarian response can cause or impact mental health conditions.
  • Along with mental health and psycho social support considerations, there is still a large gap within the shelter and settlements sector. Many of the tools and guidance only focus on physical mobility rather than a broader understanding of disability and although we are aware of many physical and environmental barriers within the sector, there is less awareness of attitudinal and communication barriers and ways to reduce these barriers.
  • The importance of access to information for all persons is paramount and we need to ensure programs, assistance mechanisms and communications are accessible for persons with different types of impairments.

Inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision making 

  • Although we are aware of the importance of participation in programming, there are few good practice examples from shelter & settlements practice on inclusion of persons with disabilities and their care givers in decision making (ie not just consultation)
  • Need to ensure we are continuing to collect case studies of good practice in this regard so that shelter actors can learn from each other (the working group will continue to do this)
  • Small technical details matter more than we might think. We need to ensure that persons with disabilities participate in all stages of programming so that those issues can be picked up and we need to make that participation accessible and relevant - “Sitting in a chair is different than looking at a drawing of the same chair”.  
  • Involving persons with disabilities from the beginning in design and testing processes of any program can foster a sense of ownership over the final products or program itself. For eg. in South Sudan, the persons involved in the persons with disabilities committee have taken their role in shelter and site planning further, becoming a part of the Care & Maintenance Groups in the camp.


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