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Disability in Latin America and Caribbean Region

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Map: Latin America and Caribbean Region

Inclusive Development Platform
By World Bank and Cnotinfor

It aims to become a self-training resource and, at the same time, to ease the access to a synthesis of the inclusive development approach, its tools and methodologies in order to allow working collectively the different themes and contents...

Disability, Development and Inclusion

The linkage between poverty and disability is strong and goes in both directions. Poverty, for example, causes disability through malnutrition, poor health care, and dangerous living conditions. Disability can cause poverty by preventing the full participation of disabled people in the economic and social life of their communities, especially if the proper supports and accommodations are not available. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the poor in developing countries are people with disabilities. (Ann Elwan 1999)


One problem in studying the link between income, poverty, and disability is the difficulty in obtaining high quality data, especially data that is useful for comparisons across countries and regions. The rate of disability found in household surveys and censuses varies dramatically. This variation results from differing measures of disability, different data collection techniques, and different reactions to survey questions by respondents. For example, the rate of disability in Paraguay was measured as 1 percent, but in Uruguay and Brazil, it was measured as 16 percent in 2001. Clearly, a common definition and comparable quality data would not yield such disparate rates of disability. In fact, a 1991 census in Brazil measured the rate of disability at 0.9 percent. The higher measured rate in 2001 was not the result of an explosion of disability in Brazil, but a more careful analysis.


Disability is multi-faceted, complex, and difficult to define. In fact, it is best understood as the interaction between such a condition and a host of personal, social and environmental factors. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) explicitly recognizes that any evaluation of a person's functioning and disability must incorporate the physical and cultural context in which they live, and so also includes a list of environmental factors.

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Publications and Reports

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World Health Organization

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Projects and Initiatives

  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Financial Sector Technical Assistance
    [Project ID: P078838 - Project Status: Active]
    The first project development objective will consist of strengthening the institutional capacity of the monetary authorities to improve the design and implementation of monetary and fiscal policies. The project has the following ten components. Component 1) the Central Bank has generated an important quasi-fiscal deficit as a result of the banking crisis management. Component 2) focus on the areas of IT auditing function, external audits accountability, institutional strengthening, implementation...
  • BRAZIL: Human Development Program Sector Program Reform Loan
    [Project ID: P080746 - Project Status: Closed]
    The First Programmatic Human Development Sector Reform Loan for Brazil basic objective is to reduce poverty by improving quality and efficiency of public spending in education, health and social assistance, and protecting the poorest and vulnerable groups from adverse impacts of economic crisis by strengthening Brazil's safety net programs. The specific objectives of the project are to: 1) strengthen human development program effectiveness through application of an improved framework of fiscal...
  • Inclusive Development Platform
    By World Bank and Cnotinfor
    The platform aims to become a self-training resource and, at the same time, to ease the access to a synthesis of the inclusive development approach, its tools and methodologies in order to allow working collectively the different themes and contents. It also includes complementary reading and bibliographical references to all those who wish to deepen the involved themes...
  • HIV/AIDS and Disability: Capturing Hidden Voices
    Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS on the part of disabled people will be widely discussed at the upcoming second international disability and development conference to be held at the Bank, entitled "Disability and Inclusive Development: Sharing, Learning and Building Alliances," November 30-December 1, 2004...
  • World Bank Institute Launches First Disabilities Learning Program
    August 19, 2004
    As part of an international effort to include disabled persons in the development process, the World Bank Institute (WBI) recently launched the first learning program aimed at incorporating the disabilities dimension into development policies and practices at the urban and municipal levels. Participants attend one of the presentations. Participation over-exceeded organizers expectations by almost 50%...
  • Mission to Brazil - Inclusive Education in Brazil
    April 17, 2003
    The World Bank is working with the Brazilian government to include disabled children in the regular educational system. This is critical to ensure that all children are part of the mainstream of their communities and are all benefiting equally from the same curriculum and instruction...
  • Profuturo Proyecto Honduras: Análisis de las salas y exhibiciones del Centro de Enseñanza CHIMINIKE, para accesibilidad a visitantes con discapacidad
    [PDF 301KB]
    By Dra. Hadizabel Burgos Molina, Consultant on Accessibility for Persons with Disability
    August 14, 2002
    Also available in [MS Word 116KB]

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Country Profiles

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has developed several country profiles on disability. Within the Latin America and Caribbean Region such studies have been carried out in Bolivia, Honduras and Paraguay. ©JICA holds all copyrights on these profiles and they are provided here in link format only.

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Last updated: 2011-06-22

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