Improvements in the collection, analysis and availability of disability statistics are crucial to promote sound, evidence-based policymaking and programming decisions. The importance of data for the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies for the social inclusion of persons with disability is expressed in article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its call for the disaggregation of indicators by disability status. 

Paragraph 48 of the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda states that:

Indicators are being developed to assist this work. Quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data will be needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind. Such data is key to decision-making.

Indicators to measure achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be disaggregated, where relevant, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location, or other characteristics, in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics (General Assembly resolution 68/261 of 29 January 2014).

Regional analysis using published national data on disability cannot be undertaken for reasons that include: (a) variation in definition or cut-off measures from standards; (b) lack of comparison with people without disabilities; and (c) lack of disaggregation and cross-tabulation of data in main socioeconomic areas. However, when national household survey and population census data are collected and compiled in accordance with international standards, data on disability prevalence are harmonized and comparable between countries.

In the Arab region, an increasing number of countries have been following the Washington Group (WG) approach as per the recommendation of the fifth meeting of the Task Force on Population and Housing Censuses (Beirut, March 2009), and in line with Revision 2 of the Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Census.  As a result, data on disability are more readily available and harmonized. 

The e-publication Arab Disability Statistics in Numbers 2017 is based on national data, harmonized to the extent possible, to allow for regional analysis, based on different sources such population censuses and household surveys for poverty, labour force, health and household budget, cross-cutting in a number of socioeconomic areas.