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Decision to eliminate key personnel in area of Disability; D.P.I. writes to World Bank President

D.N.I.S. News Network – In its letter to the World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Disabled People’s International (D.P.I.) has expressed dismay at changes the Bank will be making with regard to inclusion of disability in its development agenda. Whilst retaining the position of ‘Disability Adviser’, the Bank has decided not to renew the contract of the current Disability and Development Adviser, Judith Heumann, and other key staff positions within the wider Disability and Development Team.

D.P.I. has also mentioned that it has further understood that one of the regional disability focal point positions will be eliminated and that D.P.I. would query the criteria used in making this assessment, and also whether any stakeholders in the region, especially representative organisations of persons with disabilities, were consulted in reaching this determination.

Appreciating that specific personnel decisions are within the Bank's prerogative, D.P.I. has expressed concern that in addition to losing the excellent leadership of Heumann, it appeared that the proposed changes would substantially deprive the Bank of the institutional knowledge of disability and development built-up over the last four years - a knowledge base that would seem to be an essential component of any plan to further operationalise disability within the Bank’s activities.

D.P.I. also added that these developments signal a significant change in direction and commitment by the Bank, and a retreat from the leadership role that the Bank has played in the field of disability and development over the last several years. It strongly urged the World Bank President to reconsider the proposed changes that would substantially weaken the Bank's capacity to meet its commitment to the 400 million plus people with disabilities living in the developing world.