Handicap International’s mission in Ethiopia includes: improving the quality of and access to physical rehabilitation and orthopedic-fitting services, livelihoods facilities for families of children with disabilities, and assistance for refugees and displaced people. To carry out its mandate in Ethiopia, Handicap International employs 35 national staff and two expatriates.
Handicap International has worked in Ethiopia since 1986, during which time the country experienced repeated bouts of war, drought, famine, and refugee crises along its border regions. Since 2014, the county has become Africa’s largest refugee host, fueled by crises in South Sudan and Somalia. According to UNHCR, as of February 2017, more than 736,000 refugees are hosted in Ethiopia. Although the country ratified the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, an overall lack of inclusion and accessibility and persistent stigmas attached to disability life make very challenging for people who are differently abled.
In Ethiopia only 3% of the country estimated 2.4 to 4.8 million children with disabilities go to school due to stigma and a lack of accessibility, trained teachers, and adapted learning resources. This USAID-funded pilot project at six primary schools in Dire Dawa, Harar and Jijiga aims to develop a model of “disability-friendly schools” that fosters the inclusion of children with disabilities in educational programs. So far the program has benefited 6,700 children with disabilities and 198,200 of their non-disabled peers as well as 1,681 teachers and regional education bureau staff.
Assistance to Refugees & host communities
Due to ongoing strife and drought in neighboring Somalia, Ethiopia is currently hosting more than 200,000 Somali refugees. Many refugees live in camps in Somali state with few resources and challenging conditions, especially for vulnerable people and those with disabilities.
To prevent disabilities and mitigate the difficult conditions in the drought affected area Handicap International is ensuring that the most vulnerable people in the refugee population and the host communities of Dolo Ado and Filtu districts have access to basic resources such as stoves and hygiene products and disability-specific services. This includes providing mobility aids, other assistive devices, physical therapy, and linking people with disabilities with other service providers. 17,500 refugees have benefited from non-food distributions, and 16,300 have benefited from health services.
Climate Change & Disability
In the face of natural disaster, people with disabilities are often forgotten and isolated from the resources that they need. Handicap International's REAAP Project (Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnership) works to sustainably increase the resilience of rural communities to current and future climate change and natural disasters and ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are taken into account. This project raises awareness about the inclusion of people with disabilities in climate change actions, trains people with disabilities on how to respond during a natural disaster, and distributes mobility aids to those who require them.
THESE PROJECTS ARE POSSIBLE THANKS TO HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL DONORS, AND THE FOLLOWING FUNDING BODIES:
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL'S PREVIOUS WORK IN ETHIOPIA HAS INCLUDED:
HIV & Disability
Ethiopia faces an HIV epidemic with an estimated adult prevalence of 1.5%. However, people with disabilities are often unable to access testing and treatment as well as information about the disease and its prevention. This pilot project in Addis Ababa aims to ensure that people with disabilities across Ethiopia have access to HIV information and services, which are both tailored to their diverse needs and equal to the services available to others in the community, across selected PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief)–funded projects.