According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of the world’s 200 million children with disabilities live in developing countries.
In the State of Palestine, despite efforts to improve conditions for children with disabilities (CWDs), they continue to face daily obstacles in realising their rights and participating fully in society. Palestinian CWDs typically face a particularly dire situation, given the levels of cultural stigma directed at disability and the protracted conflict that surrounds them, which has devastated infrastructure, fractured the economy and overwhelmed service providers.
In the Gaza strip, this situation has been compounded by a 50 day escalation of violence in July- August 2014 when more than 3300 children were reportedly injured. It is estimated that 1000 of the injured children will suffer from a disability for life and require rehabilitation and specialised care and support.
This UNICEF State of Palestine- commissioned project entailed a mixed methods situation analysis and needs assessment. It adopts a lifecycle approach that captures difference at the individual, family and community levels. Paying attention to differences in age, gender, disability type and family characteristics, the study explores how Palestinian CWDs are marginalised and excluded, the obstacles they face in fulfilling their rights and what mechanisms might be put into place by the government, donors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), communities and families to better support their development and their rights.
The ODI team conducted a survey with more than 800 CWDs and their caregivers, and spoke to a large range key national, international and community level stakeholders in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Through the complementary qualitative research component it engaged directly with children to learn what they consider to be their most urgent needs, and to document their ideas as to how their wellbeing and that of their caregivers could be improved.