Handicap International is working to support the people of Mali, who have been badly affected first by drought, then by the 2012 conflict that split the country in two. The organization runs around 15 projects aimed at helping victims, reducing the risk of disability and malnutrition in young children, improving the inclusion of people with disabilities and supporting reconciliation initiatives. Operating in the country since 1996, Handicap International runs several development and emergency projects in the country and employs 165 national staff and eight expatriate staff.
Mali experienced a rapid decline in security following the rise of armed insurgent groups in 2012. Heavy fighting in northern Mali forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Countless weapons and explosive devices such as grenades and shells left behind after battles pose an immediate threat to civilians. This conflict arose as the Sahel region faced an extreme food crisis as a result of ongoing drought that caused poor harvests and rising food prices.
Today, the humanitarian situation remains precarious. The country’s institutions, such as healthcare, education, and public administration among others, have been severely affected and refugees and displaced persons are returning home against a backdrop of uncertainty and instability.
Out of a total population of 17.3 million, 43.6% live in poverty, people with disabilities representing some of the most vulnerable among them. They are seen as an excluded group and are often the victims of discrimination, with little or no access to healthcare, education, social services, and especially employment. Only a tiny proportion of children with disabilities attend school. People with disabilities represent the country’s largest minority.
- Risk education
- Mother and child health
- Psychological support
- Food and agricultural aid distribution
Since the start of the conflict, Mali has been flooded with weapons, many brought from Libya after that country's revolution. These weapons pose an imminent threat to civilians, who are frequently victims of stray bullets as well as landmines and other explosive devices left by combatants. Handicap International began organizing risk education sessions in the summer of 2012. These sessions teach civilians to identify and avoid contact with dangerous weapons and explosive devices. Handicap International’s demining experts were also active in the region in the immediate wake of the conflict, working to clear explosive remnants of war, which posed a threat to the general population and especially to children.
Mother and Child Health
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the provision of healthcare to mothers and children, Handicap International works with several partners in the Timbuktu region to provide medical personnel with training in the early detection of disability. By improving the care for these young children, it is possible to minimize or even prevent the development of the disability and enable them to lead more productive, fulfilling lives. Handicap International also works in Mali to combat food insecurity and malnutrition in young children, support women's groups engaged in peace and reconciliation initiatives, and advocate for inclusive education to ensure children with disabilities have full access to schools.
Handicap International works to identify individuals and families with disabilities or injuries who need special assistance. Staff provide equipment and training to two regional orthopedic-fitting and rehabilitation centers and cover victims' rehabilitation expenses in our efforts to reduce the physical and social effects of disabilities caused by explosive remnants of war.
Handicap International provides psychological support to help the most vulnerable people collectively identify the resources they need to overcome their difficulties. Group sessions are organized to identify problems and possible solutions. This work provides people who have experienced traumatic events with the opportunity to express their feelings and exchange experiences. This will help to combat the isolation of vulnerable people and thereby enhance their security.
Food and Agricultural Aid Distribution
The organization has run development projects in the north of the country, particularly in the region of Timbuktu, for several years, enabling it to successfully distribute food and agricultural items like seeds to people who needed them most, even when the conflict prevented other humanitarian operators from accessing this part of the country. Money transfers and food coupons are also used to help beneficiaries procure food.