Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. People with disabilities often live in tragic circumstances.
© Nicolas Früh / Handicap International
Handicap International has been working in Madagascar for over 25 years. Having set up numerous orthopaedic centres and rehabilitation projects, the organisation has since devoted itself to facilitating access to care for people with disabilities, to improving their levels of social participation, and to encouraging the inclusion of children with disabilities in schools.
Today, the organisation is fighting against disabling diseases, such as lymphatic filariasis, running awareness-raising campaigns, providing care to affected populations, and improving the skills of health professionals.
It is also operating in prison settings to improve living conditions for prisoners by encouraging access to care, promoting hygiene, and providing them with psychosocial support.
Handicap International is also running a mother and child health programme aimed at reducing mortality amongst mothers and newborns and improving access to services. Its main areas of intervention in this field include training health care professionals, making services accessible, and providing technical support.
The organisation also works to promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities by building the capacities of disabled people’s organisations. It organises national training courses and communication campaigns on the rights of people with disabilities.
Madagascar has found new hope after five years of continuous backsliding in its global social and economic development indicators.
In 2014, the country saw a return to institutional normality. A new president was elected: Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the former Finance Minister in the previous transitional government. A new National Assembly was created and for the first time in history was headed by a woman. A return to constitutional order is therefore ongoing. It is not without difficulties, but the determination of the interested parties to turn the page and move on from the past is clear.
The level of unemployment remains high and people with disabilities are not considered a priority. In addition, they suffer from high levels of discrimination in their communities. They are marginalised and their economic and social inclusion remains problematic. Less than 10% of children with disabilities attend school. Their lack of education also hinders their social inclusion when they grow up. Furthermore, intellectual disability is a particular taboo on the island.
The uncertain political and economic context prevents the launch of initiatives in the field of disability. As a result, Handicap International's actions mainly target the recognition of people with disabilities’ rights and their inclusion. However, the International Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified by Madagascar in 2015, offering a framework for progress.