Present in Pakistan since the early 1980s, Handicap International launched emergency responses following the country's 2005 earthquake and 2010 flooding. Teams are still working to improve the living conditions of those affected by natural disasters, especially people with disabilities. Today, our work focuses on natural disaster risk management and meeting the needs of people displaced by fighting in tribal areas in the northwest of the country. Handicap International currently employs 33 local staff members and three expatriate staff members in Pakistan.
Pakistan is increasingly and regularly hit by natural disasters. In 2005, an earthquake killed more than 70,000 people and displaced 3 million others from their homes. In 2010, unprecedented flooding affected more than 20 million people. Similar disasters occur every year; in 2014, nearly 3,500 villages were destroyed, affecting some two million people.
Armed conflict in northwest Pakistan is forcing civilians to flee conflict zones and take refuge in neighboring areas. According to UNHCR, as of February 2017, Pakistan is home to nearly 1.6 refugees and more than 1.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs). Displaced populations include children, women, older people, and people with disabilities, made even more vulnerable by these disasters, and often forced to live in deplorable sanitary conditions. As of July 2014, 929,000 people displaced from North Waziristan were recorded in neighboring districts; 43% were children, 30% were women, and 23% were disabled.
Natural Disaster Risk Management
Handicap International is working with the population of Sindh province, where there is a high risk of flooding, to identify solutions to mitigate the risks and consequences of climate-related disasters. Communities are encouraged to perform their own natural disaster risk evaluations and implement evacuation plans that include people with disabilities, and preventive measures such as alert systems and food stockpiling. In developing this project, Handicap International encourages the active participation of people with disabilities of all kinds and seeks to build solidarity between different communities.
Handicap International works to ensure the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities by training people within the Khyber Pakhtybkhwa province to provide services for individuals with disabilities. These trainings include information on disability, rehabilitation, and awareness raising. The project directly benefits 2,150 people and indirectly impacts 129,500 displaced families and host families in the region.
Growing Together Project
Children with disabilities remain one of the most marginalized groups in the country and very few attend school. As an invisible and stigmatized group, they are more exposed to abuse, exploitation, and negligence. Since 2016 and for a period of four years, the organization’s Growing Together project, supported by IKEA Foundation, will develop accessible and secure play areas for children in refugee camps in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This project will enable 13,000 children with and without disabilities to play, learn and grow up together in a secure and inclusive environment.