An estimated 1 billion people worldwide live with some form of disability. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the "Leave no one behind" agenda, there is a global momentum to ensure that disadvantaged groups, not least people with disabilities, are included and accounted for, in mainstream development efforts. However, in many low-income settings little is known about disability and the policies and programs in place to improve the lives of those affected.
This literature review describes the extent and quality of published and unpublished literature on education and social inclusion of people with disabilities in five West African countries: Cameroon, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal.
Fifty-four unique documents met inclusion criteria of the review and described related policy and legislation; national and international stakeholders; intervention programs and primary research related to disability and inclusion. The majority of documents were from Sierra Leone (19); and four described more than one country. Primary research included mainly qualitative studies and cross-sectional surveys; 33 sources were critically appraised with the majority being attributed unclear risk of bias (20).
The findings call for (i) standardized tools for monitoring the implementation of programs and policies at national level; (ii) improved stakeholder coordination mechanisms; (iii) development and adoption of coordinated approaches to measuring disability and social exclusion; (iv) rigorous evaluations of the effectiveness of disability programs and (v) disaggregation of routine data by disability. Implication for Rehabilitation There is a need for standardized tools for monitoring the implementation of programs and policies at national level. Countries that have not yet ratified the UNCRPD or the protocol should be supported to do so. Stakeholder coordination mechanisms need to be improved. Improved coordination between stakeholders involved in disability at the country level could help improve the quality of services delivered. Development and adoption of coordinated approaches is key to measuring disability and social exclusion. There are few, if any, rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of disability-specific evaluations in the five countries. There is a need for disaggregation of routine data from development programs by disability to inform implementation.