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Burkina Faso

People's beliefs, social taboos and a sense of fatalism mean people with disabilities in Burkina Faso are often shunned. Handicap International defends their fundamental rights and helps people with disabilities to access education.

Reading in class, Handicap International Burkina Faso

© Handicap International

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Although efforts have been made in Burkina Faso, people with disabilities are often confined to the margins of society, right from the earliest days of their childhood. They have no access to education or professional training, two areas Handicap International has been working on in order to improve their living conditions.

The organisation promotes and values initiatives which aim to ensure the fundamental rights of people with disabilities are upheld: the right to receive care, to work, to attend school etc. Through its education project, Handicap International facilitates children with disabilities' access to primary school places. In order to ensure the sustainability of this project, the organisation is training and raising the awareness of actors in the disability and inclusive education sectors.

Since 2016, Handicap International has been leading a project to prevent developmental delays and disabilities among children affected by malnutrition, using physiotherapy and physical and emotional stimulation (through parent-child interaction and educational games). A target of 11,500 Burkinabe children will have received specific care in the coming two years.

Handicap International also works towards preventing violence against children. It has implemented initiatives to strengthen the prevention of violence and sexual abuse of children and provide support for the systems in place to deal with these cases (such as actors in the health sector and psychologists).

In 1990, the programme in Burkina Faso was Handicap International's first mission in West Africa. In partnership with the Ministry of Public Health, the organisation converted an orthopaedic fitting centre for veterans into a national orthopaedic fitting centre. It then went on to support the development of other rehabilitation centres. Today, Handicap International is facilitating the set up of a regional functional rehabilitation network and this network’s integration into the national health system. To achieve this, Handicap International is training health and functional rehabilitation professionals:  over 120 nurses, healthcare personnel, ortho-prosthetic technicians and rehabilitation or orthopaedic assistants have already benefited from this training.

Areas of intervention

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African States against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
© HI
Explosive weapons

African States against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

From 27th to 28th November, Handicap International (HI) is organising a regional conference on the bombing of civilians. The Conference will take place in Maputo, Mozambique and aims to bring together some 20 States, 10 African civil society organisations and international NGOs. The goal is to raise awareness of this vital challenge among African countries and to encourage them to take action on the world stage to protect civilians from the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Hidden and underestimated: How children with disabilities are breaking down barriers to attend school
© Erwan Rogard/Handicap International

Hidden and underestimated: How children with disabilities are breaking down barriers to attend school

In West Africa, millions of children don’t complete their primary education and some have never been to school. Handicap International estimates that one third of these children have a disability. Our inclusive education programme runs in nine countries[i] in the region and will ensure that 170,000 children have the opportunity to learn, play, make friends and feel valued in society.

Handicap International working to continue patient care after fire in Burkina Faso rehabilitation centre
© Handicap International

Handicap International working to continue patient care after fire in Burkina Faso rehabilitation centre

In June 2016, a fire destroyed an orthopaedic centre in the town of Tenkodogo, in the centre of Burkina Faso. Part of the local hospital, it provided services to some 200 people a year.


Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Its most vulnerable citizens are often illiterate and suffer from a lack of access to healthcare and limited spending power.

The most vulnerable populations, and people with disabilities in particular, receive almost no medical assistance and have very little involvement in the country's economic and social life. Their fundamental rights, including access to education, professional training and employment are often not upheld. The vast majority therefore find themselves excluded and suffering from extreme poverty.

85.5%[1] of people with disabilities in Burkina Faso have received no education at all, 56.5% have no occupation, and 72.6% of children with disabilities do not attend school.

The galloping demographic growth of the capital Ouagadougou, which is now home to more than 1.5 million people, has also created issues. These not only relate to problems with pollution and security, but also the transport, health and education infrastructure which is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.

After 27 years in power, Blaise Compaore was forced to resign in October 2014 following a popular uprising. An interim government has been put into place until the Presidential elections which are set to be held in October 2015.  These events have stunted growth in the country, which the IMF estimates will be 5%[2] for 2015, down 1-2 points on the forecasts.

[1] Burkina: General population and census, conducted in 2006 and published in July 2008.

[2] IMF: International Monetary Fund

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