Present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1994, Handicap International provides rehabilitation to people with disabilities and victims of violence, promotes the inclusion of children with disabilities in schools, works to prevent disabilities in babies, and provides logistics support to other NGOs. To carry out its development and emergency activities in the DRC, Handicap International employs 95 national staff and 15 expatriate staff.
The DRC is among the poorest countries in Africa, where 89% of people live on less than $2 per day. It is the second largest and one of the most multi-ethnic countries in Africa. It is also considered to be the world's largest French-speaking country. Over the last 20 years, civil war in eastern DRC has resulted in millions of deaths and injuries and massive population displacement. According to UNHCR, as of February 2017, more than 384,000 refugees are hosted in DRC, which is also home to more than 1.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs), while 467,000 Congolese refugees live in neighboring countries. Faced with the DRC’s staggering needs, Handicap International employs its full spectrum of services, from rehabilitation and preventive care to emergency assistance.
- TEAM CONGO
- Inclusion Technical Unit
- Rehabilitation and Demining
- Inclusive education
- Maternal and child health
- Logistics services
- Support to DPOs (Disabled People's Organizations)
- Road safety
The goal of TEAM CONGO (Training, Economic Empowerment, Assistive Technology and Medical/Physical Rehabilitation Services) is to enable people with disabilities, especially women and girls, living in Kinshasa and Kananga to achieve independence and fully participate in all aspects of life. The project provides quality rehabilitation and orthopedic training to rehabilitation professionals, socio-economic opportunities for 400 women and girls with disabilities, technical and mobility aids for those who require them. This program is generously funded by USAID Leahy War Victims Fund.
INCLUSION TECHNICAL UNIT
Handicap International's Inclusion Technical Unit is a team of individuals who work to ensure that the activities and structures of HI's partner organizations are accessible to vulnerable people and people with disabilities in North Kivu.
REHABILITATION AND DEMINING
Handicap International introduced physical therapy to several hospitals in North Kivu, setting up services, training physical therapists, and supplying hospitals with equipment. The organization is currently training physical therapy students and strengthening the technical skills of existing physical therapists. In addition to working with victims of armed violence, Handicap International also provides rehabilitation to other people with disabilities, and has set up mobile clinics in order to reach children with disabilities living in isolated areas. The organization also clears mines and explosive remnants of war to secure the land and improve the living conditions of communities living in conflict-affected areas.
Only a fraction of children with disabilities in the DRC go to school due to discrimination and a lack of accessibility and special education resources. Handicap International works with ten primary schools in Kinshasa to ensure that children with disabilities, particularly girls, are included. The organization trains teachers, improves the accessibility of school buildings, and reaches out to parents in the community to encourage them to send children with disabilities to school.
MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH
Handicap International has run a mother and child health program in the neighborhood of Bumbu Selembao in the capital of Kinshasa since 2008. The program's goal is to prevent and diagnose disability in newborns. Community volunteers distribute information about disability prevention, organize weekly awareness sessions with mothers, and encourage pregnant women to seek prenatal care at the Kitokimosi Health Center. Around 132,114 mothers and 119,531 newborns have benefited from this project.
Handicap International offers free logistics services to 50 national and international organizations and to the United Nations agencies, enabling them to come to the aid of affected populations living in areas that lack infrastructure. In addition to transporting humanitarian material and providing storage space, Handicap International is also one of the five members of the steering committee for a humanitarian helicopter, which enables better access to the country's most remote and vulnerable areas. This project is generously supported by USAID OFDA.
SUPPORT TO DISABLED PEOPLE'S ORGANIZATIONS (DPOs)
Since the United Nations adopted the disability treaty known as the CRPD (the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), it has been easier to take a rights-based approach to helping Congolese with disabilities. Based in Kinshasa, this program builds the institutional and operational capacities of three local DPOs, so they can advocate and raise awareness about the problems facing people with disabilities, particularly among the general public, and government institutions. These advocacy actions aim at achieving the ratification of the CRPD in the DRC, which will further strengthen the inclusion of people with disabilities in Congolese society.
Handicap International works in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport and Highways to improve road safety by building the capacities of Road Traffic Police officers and raising community awareness, particularly in schools. As part of this program, Handicap International supervises and trains police officers in 24 communes in Kinshasa to enhance road safety deterrence and enforcement measures.