Better Data Means Better Policy to Support Persons with Disabilities in Moldova

Better Data Means Better Policy to Support Persons with Disabilities in Moldova

Students study at a school for children with special needs during the visit of United Nations Development Program administrator and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark speaks to residents of Dorotcaia, Moldova.
Photo Courtesy of John McConnico/United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in The Catalyst on Palladium’s website on December 12, 2023.

By Meg Langley and Camelia Gheorghe

There are an estimated 176,508 persons with disabilities in the Republic of Moldova (6.8% of the total population), of whom 10,567 are children.

To effectively identify and support these individuals, governments must prioritize both the availability of data on people with disabilities and its analysis. With better data comes better decisions and better policy changes to ensure that much-needed resources are allocated to those that need them most.

“For instance, data could show that the access to rehabilitation centers for children with physical or mental health disabilities living in remote areas is very low,” explains Viorica Toarta, Data Use Advisor on Data for Impact (D4I) in Moldova. “The local authorities may then decide to invest in establishing mobile teams of therapists that could provide rehabilitation services at home or make available transportation equipped with assistive facilities that could bring the children to these centers.”

Supporting Refugees

D4I, which supports countries to generate and use high quality data, has been supporting the Moldovan government to identify data gaps, gather disability data specific to Ukrainian refugees, and introduce performance management indicators in public administration to ensure that people with disabilities receive benefits and services more efficiently.

With data, governments can provide resources to persons with disabilities more effectively and equitably. “But to get to that point, we need to embed disability indicators in national data collection systems, strengthen statistical capacity, and promote a culture of data use for decision-making,” explains Maria Vremis, D4I Moldova Data Analytics Advisor.

To support data availability, D4I worked with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection (MOLSP) and Social Affairs Parliamentary Commission to map indicators for monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities and developed the first ever statistical compendium on disability in Moldova.

The compendium contains 137 indicators in nine areas: employment, education, health, social protection, justice/human rights, transport and infrastructure, participation in public, social and cultural life, and functional limitations. “The Compendium developed by the MOLSP with the support of D4I and under the guidance of the specialized parliamentary commission is a premiere in our country,” notes Vasile Cușcă, State Secretary, MOLSP.

“It contains indicators which help the central and local public authorities to monitor the progress in the promotion and respect of the rights of persons with disabilities, indicate the areas where new policies are needed or the services which require strengthening.”

The Compendium also points to areas where data is missing, guiding the future efforts of authorities towards data collection, analysis, and use for the benefit of persons with disabilities. The indicators are in the process of being institutionalized by the government and D4I developed the data collection forms and training materials for 26 data producers to facilitate that process.

The Next Step: Analysis and Improvement

To strengthen data analysis, D4I is assisting the government of Moldova in gathering up-to-date information on Ukrainian refugees, including those with disabilities, by integrating and triangulating data from multiple sources through technology-enabled data analytics and visualization platforms provided in the two Refugee Data Situation Rooms set up with D4I support. The rooms are in Stefan Voda rayon (the main entry point of Ukrainian refugees in the Republic of Moldova) and MOLSP.

At the moment, the profile of over 113,000 refugees, of whom around 10% have disabilities or severe health issues, can be visualized in the rooms, allowing the decision-makers from Stefan Voda rayon and the MOLSP to tailor their support, providing services like humanitarian aid, accommodation with host families or placement centers, assistive equipment, social protection services, rehabilitation services, health care, schooling, and employment.

Another area of support is performance management to strengthen public administration decision making. D4I is working with the National Council for the Assessment of Disability and Work Capacity to introduce performance management in its internal processes at central and local level. The Council is in charge of assessing and reconfirming the disability of over 54,000 applicants per year and issuing or renewing disability certificates to those eligible, which opens up the right of persons with disabilities to statutory cash benefits and services.

Often, the time from application to getting the certificate is too long, and the process is cumbersome, keeping people from accessing allowances, rehabilitation, assistive equipment, social services, or other facilities. “The team is helping to identify bottlenecks and translate them into performance indicators to ensure that the process of obtaining a disability certificate and thus access to cash and services is both transparent and more efficient,” Vremis adds.

For a government to support its citizens, it must first ensure the correct data is available to provide an accurate picture of those living with disabilities, and identify data gaps and institutionalize the collection of key data. Governments then need to invest in strengthening the domestic capacity to analyze and review that data to provide a picture of current needs and resource allocation.

Finally, the data gathered and analyzed can support decision-making, to ensure the relevant resources are provided to those that need it most, and to promote a culture of data use for decision-making to improve wellbeing for all citizens.


Meg Langley, MPH, has 15 years of experience managing and providing technical assistance to development activities, with a focus on strengthening data and systems for planning, monitoring, evaluating, and assuring the quality of programs. She currently serves as the D4I Child Protection Portfolio Lead and is a Senior Technical Advisor at Palladium.

Camelia Gheorghe, MSc, has more than 25 years of M&E and social development experience in European Union countries, Western Balkans, Central Asia, Ukraine, and Moldova. She currently serves as D4I Chief of Party in the Republic of Moldova and has been with Palladium for seven years.