Handicap International has worked in Bolivia since 2011 to prevent disabilities and promote the self-reliance and social inclusion of people with disabilities. Since 2014, Handicap International has set up seven pilot rehabilitation centers in the departments of Potosi and Oruro. The program in Bolivia employs a staff of 11 Bolivians and three expatriates. While the program currently only operates in Bolivia, Handicap International plans on developing projects for Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay under the umbrella of the Andrea States Program.
Bolivian society and its institutions have changed dramatically since 2005, when Evo Morales was elected President of the Republic of Bolivia. This marked a major turning point in the recognition and inclusion of the country’s 36 ethnic groups and indigenous cultures. Despite a program of social and economic reform, Bolivia still struggles with widespread poverty and social exclusion, which mostly affect the majority indigenous population living in the countryside and on the outskirts of major towns. Inequality persists and people with disabilities remain marginalized.
In the municipality of El Alto, Handicap International enables community members with disabilities to access decent employment through various institutional, technical, and sociocultural activities. Particular attention is paid to the most vulnerable people, including children, young adults, and women with disabilities. Specific activities of this project include building the capacities of institutions working in the field of disability and inclusive employment, providing inclusive employment support to local employers, and conducting awareness-raising activities to proliferate a better understand of disability throughout the Quechua community.
Handicap International has partnered with the Bolivian Ministry of Health to set up seven rehabilitation centers in the departments of Potosi and Oruro. The organization trains and provides educational tools to rehabilitation staff and doctors that work in these centers. This project enables people with disabilities to access the functional rehabilitation services they need in order to live full lives. All educational tools developed in these centers are then shared with Bolivia's network of 30 rehabilitation centers across the country.
Disaster Risk Reduction
Bolivia is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. The country is highly exposed to earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Handicap International supports local officials and civil society representatives to ensure that they take the most vulnerable citizens, including persons with disabilities, into account in earthquake preparedness plans.