Global disability and poverty efforts get key boost from agreement between SU’s Burton Blatt Institute and World Bank
Global disability and poverty efforts get key boost from agreement between SU’s Burton Blatt Institute and World BankJanuary 29, 2008Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
A promising new collaboration between the World Bank and Syracuse University could spur global efforts to reduce poverty for an estimated 400 million people with disabilities living in developing countries. The Burton Blatt Institute: Centers of Innovation on Disability at Syracuse University (BBI) and the World Bank have signed an agreement to support activities of the Global Partnership on Disability and Development (GPDD), an international disability network initiated by the World Bank and committed to promoting inclusive development as a means to achievement of Millennium Development Goals.
Established in 2006 with assistance from the World Bank and set up by a multi-stakeholder task force, the GPDD brings together organizations, government agencies, multinational lenders and research centers focused on reducing the link between disability and poverty, and promoting inclusive development activities. BBI will receive $350,000 from the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility (DGF) — with another $350,000 likely in 2009 — to support the growth and organizational development of the GPDD. In turn, the GPDD will share information, expand knowledge, improve public policies and practices, and foster collaboration to improve education and economic opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their families worldwide.
“This is a great honor and unique opportunity for BBI and Syracuse University,” says Peter Blanck, BBI chairman and SU University Professor. “Both BBI and the GPDD share the same mission of advancing the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities worldwide. This collaboration and support system will help further accelerate the inclusion of people with disabilities into the social and economic mainstream.”
“This new collaboration will connect the expertise and resources of our Burton Blatt Institute to the GPDD and the World Bank in ways that will promote inclusive economic and social development across the globe,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor.
“Given that people living with disabilities are among the poorest of the poor worldwide, we welcome this agreement with BBI and Syracuse University as another step forward in dismantling the link between poverty and disability,” says Joy Phumaphi, vice president of the World Bank’s Human Development Network. “The social and economic exclusion of people with disabilities in developing countries requires the attention and investment of resources by development institutions, government and nongovernmental organizations.”
Maria Reina has been jointly selected by BBI and GPDD leadership to serve as executive director of the leadership network in an open, international competitive process. Reina, director of international projects at BBI’s Washington, D.C., office since 2006, has diverse experiences working on disability research, advocacy and development work, including an intensive dedication to the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee for the Disability Convention. She previously worked for the Center for International Rehabilitation; the Institute for International Disability Advocacy; the Institute for International Cooperation and Development; the Argentinean Disabled People Organization, Cilsa; and the University Institute San Martin in Rosario, Argentina, where she was an adjunct professor.
“As a person with a disability from Argentina, I have traveled to developing countries and witnessed the physical and attitudinal barriers that diminish full participation and contributions of people with disabilities,” says Reina.
During the next six months, BBI and the GPDD will mobilize disability-led organizations worldwide — in cooperation with governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector — to identify best practice strategies that promote inclusion in economic and social development. Through research, training and community development activities, the GPDD will increase participation of people with disabilities in national poverty reduction efforts in developing countries.
“Improved access to education, health care, technology and transportation are needed to reduce the barriers of stigma and discrimination,” says Kalle Konkkola, GPDD task force chair.
The World Bank provides critically needed financial and technical assistance to developing countries, and is composed of a number of development institutions owned by 185 member countries, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The mission of both institutions is to reduce global poverty and to improve living standards of developing countries around the world. While IBRD focuses on middle income and credit-worthy poor countries, IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. The World Bank Group provides loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries, and is a knowledge leader in development. For more information, visit http://worldbank.org.
BBI fosters public-private dialogue to advance civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. BBI takes its name from Burton Blatt (1927-85), a pioneer in humanizing services for people with mental retardation, a staunch advocate of deinstitutionalization, and a national leader in special education. The institute currently has offices in Syracuse, New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Tel Aviv. For more information, visit http://bbi.syr.edu.
For more information on GPDD, contact Reina at (202) 296-2042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.