Handicap International works in Benin to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and promote their full participation in the country's economic and social life.
© J. Cerda / Handicap International
From 1999 to 2002, Handicap International provided support to develop orthopaedic and functional rehabilitation services in Benin. The organisation then returned to the country in 2010 at the request of the Ministry of the Family and National Solidarity which asked it to deploy initiatives to control lymphatic filariasis, a highly disabling tropical disease. At the same time, Handicap International also launched a project to promote the rights of people with disabilities in Cotonou, the seat of the country's government.
Today, the organisation continues to implement projects to build on the progress already made towards improving the inclusion of people with disabilities. Training courses are held in the city of Cotonou for people with political and administrative responsibilities, to encourage them to think about the physical accessibility of buildings, the importance of translating official documents into braille, and of offering school places to children with disabilities. Support is also provided to Disabled People's Organisations to help them improve how they are structured and ensure their voices are heard when the local authorities take decisions.
Handicap International's teams in Benin also run a project which aims to improve the inclusion of people with disabilities in 42 primary schools of the municipalities of Cotonou and Abomey Calavi. Healthcare, advice on education and careers, teacher training, work to guarantee accessibility - no stone is left unturned to ensure these children can benefit from the same education as every other child. More than 780 children with disabilities and their parents are currently being supported through this project.
Finally, Handicap International works with a demining training centre in Benin - the centre for advanced training in post-conflict mine clearance operations (CPADD). The training modules are developed conjointly to improve the security of stockpiles of weapons and munitions, and to limit the risk of accidental explosions which harm hundreds of people across the world every year.
The stable democracy in Benin since 1990 has greatly benefited the country, but the economic situation is still precarious, with almost half of the population living in extreme poverty.
It is very difficult for people with disabilities to access healthcare that is adapted to their needs. They are also rarely taken into account in development initiatives.