It has been 35 years since Korea first established the 'Day of Persons with
Disabilities' on April 20, 1981. Furthermore, in June 2013, the Korean National
Assembly emphasized the importance of the realization of rights and the alleviation
of poverty of persons with disabilities within the scope of Official Development
Assistance (ODA) by adopting the amendment of the Framework Act on International
Development Cooperation, which includes persons with disabilities as beneficiaries
of ODA (in addition to women and children, per Article 3). The Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) agreed upon by all member states of the United Nations, were founded
on the principle of "No one left Behind,' reinforce the values of universality
and concern for the vulnerable. Korea was also chair at the 2015 UN Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In keeping with these previous efforts, KOICA, a specialized government grand
aid agency, will accelerate efforts to advance disability-inclusive development
It is essential to take a disability-inclusive approach
to ODA, given that the population of persons with disabilities due to natural
and man-made disasters caused by climate change, wars and displacement, and
aging has increased, and that 80 percent of persons with disabilities live in
developing countries. Moreover, problem-solving through implementation of disability-inclusive
projects is a core principle of international development cooperation, as disability
is both a cause and an effect of poverty.
Thus, KOICA is making efforts to reinforce the principle of ‘disability-inclusive
development cooperation,’ which is the concept of respecting the rights and
increasing the social accessibility of persons with disabilities, rather than
confining disability assistance solely to projects targeting these individuals.
Through partnership with domestic and foreign organizations
for persons with disabilities, KOICA is establishing special needs education
schools, as well as treatment and rehabilitation centers, increasing capacity
for job training, working on partnership projects with civil society, and supporting
cultural and sports activities for those with developmental disabilities. World
Friends Korea (WFK) volunteers in the fields of special needs education and
social welfare are the at the front lines in KOICA's disability-inclusive development
projects in our partner countries.
KOICA is spearheading projects for the establishment
or management of special needs education schools and rehabilitation centers
in El Salvador, Columbia, Jordan and Bangladesh, and has dispatched 345 WFK
volunteers specialized in social welfare and special needs education between
1991 and 2015. Futhermore, KOICA is implementing programs promoting day-to-day
independence, as well as rehabilitation and mobility support centers (seven
projects in five countries in 2015).
By further strengthening partnerships with domestic
and foreign organizations for persons with disabilities, KOICA will issue program
guidelines for carrying out disability-inclusive development cooperation.
It is our hope that this Day of Persons with Disabilities
will serve as an opportunity for us all to learn of KOICA’s disability-inclusive
development cooperation, and to give thought to improving human rights for persons
with disabilities worldwide.