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Theory of Change

The PDF theory of change (ToC) links the areas of work above with various levels of outcomes, which match organisational and member priorities as well as regional and international frameworks.

The ToC is based on a participatory planning process (August 2016) with PDF Board members and staff.  It reflects deep understanding of the socio-cultural, political and organisational contexts in which disability inclusive development work is undertaken and the way that these contexts influence change processes.  The ToC deliberately takes a strengths-based approach to supporting change, recognising the abilities of people, communities and organisations across the region to define and achieve their own change agenda.  The assumptions underpinning the logic are based on PDF’s experience of effective strategies undertaken to date and contemporary literature on disability inclusive development.

The ToC demonstrates various relationships between the ultimate goal, long-term goals, intermediate outcomes, immediate outcomes and key result areas.  PDF has recognised that linear planning approaches are not likely to achieve disability inclusive societies.  Rather, it seeks to work in different ways with multiple partners on multiple topics and at all levels, depending on the context, lessons learned and opportunities available.  This approach is based on PDF’s experience that a combination of strategically considered processes and relationships, founded on clear principles and messages, will contribute to high-level changes over time. 

This is consistent with the concept of progressive realisation of rights described in CRPD.

Areas of Work

As summarised in the areas of work, PDF will organise its work in the next five years towards the achievement of the ultimate goal, in the following three areas:

1.         Strong, effective and sustainable PDF
2.         Strengthening partnerships
3.         Increased research, data, and inclusive practices

Discussion: PDF is a representative, membership-based advocacy organisation, operating across multiple sites.  PDF comprises both a regional secretariat and member DPOs in Pacific Island countries and this area of work includes both.  PDF recognises the complexity of the issues involved and that success could look different in different places, because the starting points vary and what looks like a major success in one country may look like a minor achievement in another. 
Key areas of work listed above reflect PDF’s experience of a high degree of intersection between different approaches to advocacy on disability inclusion – strong organisations, strong partnerships and strong evidence.  These elements need to be mutually supportive.  For example, development of evidence about effective strategies can support organisations and partnerships to achieve more together.  PDF recognizes the value of working in culturally- and politically-savvy ways.  It also recognizes the need to be flexible, responsive and inclusive. 


Consistent with the organisational values of the Pacific Disability Forum, the key approaches that PDF will use to undertake this work include:

•           Systemic advocacy in relation to articles of the CRPD at national, regional and international levels with leaders, influencing organisations and other sources of change
•           Participation of and collaboration with members
•           Representation of members’ priorities and voices
•           Ensuring women’s and youth priorities are included
•           Increasing attention to and participation by people with psycho-social and intellectual disabilities and their families
•           Commitment to ongoing learning about effective approaches, which may work in different settings
•           Collaboration with partners on shared objectives and practices.

Immediate Outcomes

PDF believes that if it works effectively in the three areas of work using the approaches listed above, then it is likely that substantial contributions will be made to the following set of priority outcomes.  PDF believes that its approaches and activities will intersect and interact with each other in largely unpredictable ways in different countries and settings, recognizing that each country and opportunity is different. The Board and Staff believe their work will contribute to the following immediate outcomes (with the relevant numbers from above noted against each outcome):

1.         Strong and sustainable DPOs
2.         Influential partnerships with UN agencies, civil society, private sector, faith based organisations, government and intergovernmental organisations
3.         Increased evidence about effective approaches for disability inclusion and disability disaggregated data
4.         Improved access to services, information and technology

Discussion: These four outcomes, and the links between them, reflect PDF’s understanding that when strong organisations, partnerships and evidence are combined in advocacy and development work, then substantial ongoing changes in disability inclusion in the region can be achieved.  This builds on the existing advocacy and development pathways established during PDF’s first decade of existence and incorporates lessons learned about effective strategies. 

The selection of immediate but broad outcomes recognises that different mixes of elements may be appropriate at different times and locations.  For example, a strong DPO in one country might prioritise increased access to services at one time, while another may prioritise access to information and technology. The set of outcomes confirms the need for ongoing learning at all levels, given that for most countries, this work is relatively new. In addition, a combination of approaches is more likely to be effective than one single element to bring about the changes sought. 

Intermediate Outcomes

The four immediate outcomes listed above will contribute to the following four intermediate outcomes in the longer term, in various ways:

1.         The voice of persons with disabilities is heard in community and formal decision-making processes
2.         Improved livelihoods and employment for persons with disabilities
3.         CRPD is ratified and implemented in Pacific island countries
4.         Increased proportion of persons with disabilities are educated to their potential

Discussion:  The combination of each immediate outcome will contribute to all of the longer-term intermediate outcomes, since these longer term results require integrated approaches and shared learning across several areas of work.  For example, strong DPOs working within strong partnerships will be able to effectively advocate for inclusive education and improved employment.  Similarly, partnerships will be strengthened with the evidence generated through research, to be able to identify most effective strategies to bring about change in each sector and location. 

Each of the outcomes are inter-connected and inter-dependent.

Long Term Goals      

1. Increased participation of all persons with disabilities (women, men, youth and children) in Pacific countries
2. Disability issues are mainstreamed into all sectors. 

Discussion: PDF believes that the four intermediate outcomes will eventually contribute to these long-term goals.

Ultimate Goal

The two long-term goals are expected to contribute to the following ultimate goal, alongside contributions made by many others including Pacific leaders, communities, people with disabilities, government, private sector and civil society organisations, donor organisations and development partners:

“An inclusive Pacific society where all human rights of all persons with disabilities are realized”

Discussion: The over-arching logic described, demonstrates the interrelationship between the ultimate goal, long-term goals, intermediate outcomes, immediate outcomes and the key results areas.


The assumptions underpinning this theory of change are summarised as follows:
•           Government and civil society leaders will increase understanding and efforts towards disability inclusion over time
•           There is ongoing agreement of the need for a regional approach
•           International development and disability organisations will continue to prioritise and lead change related to disability inclusion
•           A regional approach to supporting disability inclusion will be resourced and sustained
•           People with disabilities, including women, men, youth and children, will increasingly experience full access to societies and will be recognised as being equal with every other citizen
•           Countries, communities and development agencies will increase their capacity, including knowledge and skills, to implement the CRPD
•           Increasing resources will be provided by governments and development partners to implement CRPD, including development of legal frameworks and implementation of policies
•           People with disability will be recognized for their ability to participate in and contribute to national economies
•           PDF’s advocacy priorities and approaches will influence government and other organisations responsible for bringing about change, for example in gender equality, disaster preparedness, climate change, NCDs, ending violence against women and girls, inclusive education, employment and accessible ICT
•           Access to inclusive education will support children with disability to complete their education and gain meaningful sources of income
•           The private sector will be increasingly engaged in disability inclusion
•           Community understanding about disability rights will increase over time
•           Efforts to achieve disability inclusive societies will cover both rural and urban areas and outer islands