HI is improving 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.
Thierry, 9, was born without a left leg. He can go to school with his prosthesis given by HI. | © Evrard Niyomwungere / HI
HI promotes access to orthopaedic fitting centres for people with disabilities. It is notably training physiotherapists and providing equipment to produce orthopaedic fittings. HI is also helping casualties of the conflict by providing them with emergency rehabilitation care (physiotherapy sessions, supplies of crutches, and so on) and psychological support to help them overcome their trauma and be included in their community again. HI is also taking action on mother and child health care so as to improve the early detection of disabilities in mothers and children.
HI is also 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 enhancing the protection of children in 50 schools affected by the conflict in Bujumbura, Rumonge and Makamba, notably by providing children with risk education on small arms and explosive remnants of war, by training teachers to identify the signs of psychological distress, and by developing a healthy and protective school environment. As part of the Ubuntu Care project, HI is working to end violence against children, notably sexual violence, and providing support to victims to ensure they are able to access immediate assistance. The organisation also sets up children’s clubs to educate their peers on the risk of sexual violence.
The organisation is also working with social services to improve support for young people with disabilities, and notably to encourage their access to employment. It also helps women operated for obstetric fistula access work and feel more included in their communities.
Furthermore, HI 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 fairly 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 - sexual, accidents on public highways, war – are the causes 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, hundreds of thousands of Burundians have fled the country and sought refuge in Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.