Disability Statistics in Humanitarian Action

Handicap International is working to improve the availability of quality data on persons with disabilities and increase its use by humanitarian organisations.


A person with disabilities in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan
A person with disabilities in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan
Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.

From July 2016 to March 2019, Handicap International is running a project to improve data collection on persons with disabilities in humanitarian crises. The project will test and assess the Washington Group questions for use in humanitarian response contexts, and use the learning to develop guidance on the use of the WG questions by humanitarian actors.

What is the problem?

  • Humanitarian actors lack information and knowledge about available or appropriate tools to collect disability data. They often use binary 'yes/no' questions, such as “do you have a disability or medical condition”, which lead to underreporting.
  • Humanitarian actors do not know how many persons with disabilities are affected in a given crisis.
  • Without knowing the number of persons with disabilities, humanitarian actors are not equipped to identify and address the needs of persons with disabilities, or design and implement inclusive projects.

How will we tackle it?

1) Test and assess the use of the Washington Group questions in humanitarian action in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jordan, and the Philippines.

2) Use the results of the action research to create learning materials and guidance designed specifically for humanitarian actors.

3) Disseminate the learning materials, advocate for the use of the Washington Group questions in humanitarian action, and build the capacity of humanitarian actors.

What is the Washington Group on Disability Statistics?

The Washington Group on Disability Statistics was established in 2001 under the UN Statistical Commission. Its goal is to develop and test tools to collect internationally comparable disability statistics, and to help actors better identify persons with disabilities.

In the initial stage of the project, Handicap International is piloting the use of the Washington Group Short Set of questions in refugee settings with key humanitarian actors.

Six questions on Short Set

Who is supporting the project?

Led by Handicap International, the project is funded by UK aid.

As part of its Disability Framework, the UK Department of International Development (DFID) aims to strengthen disability inclusion in policies and programmes across many sectors and levels . DFID has made a commitment to improving the collection and use of disaggregated data on disability and age in humanitarian contexts, and this project is the first major step to achieving this goal.

An Advisory Steering Group will guide, support, and promote the project throughout all of its phases. This group will involve senior headquarters representation from key international humanitarian organisations, United Nations agencies, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, global humanitarian networks, international Disabled People’s Organisations, international Non-Governmental Organisations, and DFID. Meetings will take place quarterly to review progress and discuss next steps.

Latest news

All the latest project updates from Project Co-ordinator Pauline Thivillier.

► Ensuring everyone counts when disaster strikes: Sharing early learning from UK aid funded project on disability data in humanitarian contexts
Blog post with DFID Inclusive, 6th November 2017.

► Registering refugees with disabilities in refugee settings in Jordan
Blog post with BOND, 20th June 2017.

Project resources

A range of project resources are available to download using the links below. More documents, including the project findings and learning materials will be made available over time.

Project documentation

► Project Brief: Action Research (pdf, 428 KB)

► Infographic: Project overview (pdf, 349 KB)

► Research Protocol: Disability Statistics in Humanitarian Action (Word, 1.03 MB)

Project findings

► Vulnerability Assessment Framework - Disability Universal Indicator to Assist Identification (pdf, 681.73 KB)

► Equal Access Monitor - September 2017 (pdf, 5.66 MB)
Arabic version available on Reliefweb.

Get in touch

For more information about the Disability Statistics project, please email the Project Co-ordinator, Pauline Thivillier:
or call our UK office on:
+44 (0)870 774 3737.

Funded by

UK Aid logo