Handicap International is trying to improve living conditions for people with disabilities in Burundi. The organisation helps them to obtain orthopaedic fitting, to earn a living and to improve their inclusion in society.
© Evrard Niyomwungere / Handicap International
Handicap International promotes access to orthopaedic fitting centres for people with disabilities in Burundi and strengthens the rehabilitation services provided by these centres. It is training physiotherapists and providing equipment to produce orthopaedic fittings. Handicap International is also taking action on mother and child health care to improve the early detection of disabilities in mothers and children.
Handicap International is monitoring the inclusion of children with disabilities in the school system and provision for these children in the country's national education policy. The organisation is also working with social services to improve support for young people with disabilities, and to encourage their access to employment. It also helps women who have undergone operations for obstetric fistula access work and feel more included in their communities.
Handicap International is helping to reduce sexual violence against children, in particular children with disabilities. The victims of violence are referred to the appropriate services to ensure they benefit from immediate and appropriate care. The organisation is also carrying out awareness-raising work on unexploded devices with young people and children in 20 schools and engaging in advocacy at national level.
Furthermore, Handicap International supports Disabled People's Organisations and carries out advocacy to promote their rights.
In Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world, health remains a serious issue for the most vulnerable. Many Congolese refugees have also found asylum in Burundi.
More than 67% of the Burundi population live below the poverty threshold. The country has very low economic growth and suffers from a high level of inflation. It is also one of the most densely populated African countries. It is ranked 184th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP 2014).
In terms of health, the statistics concerning the level of neonatal mortality and maternal mortality in Burundi are extremely worrying. Pathologies linked to pregnancy and giving birth are the third cause of registered deaths in hospitals for people over 15 years old. Many women suffer from obstetric fistula following a difficult labour, and lose their lives after giving birth.
In terms of mortality, women and children under five pay a heavy price. Chronic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, mental illness, together with physical violence (as a result of sexual violence, war and road traffic accidents) are the cause of numerous physical and intellectual disabilities.
Furthermore, since 1993, the political instability and insecurity in the region has led to massive population movements: there are thousands of refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo but also internally displaced persons. Since April 2015, as a result of the political instability affecting the country, more than 190,000 Burundians have fled the country and sought refuge in Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.