Handicap International works to support children with disabilities in Senegal. In the Casamance region, it uses his expertise to take action against anti-personnel landmines.
© J-J. Bernard / Handicap International
Handicap International is currently working on a range of projects to support children with disabilities in the regions of Dakar and Casamance:
The organisation works on the prevention, detection and management of impairments relating to maternal, neonatal and infant health issues. It takes action to ensure that children with disabilities can attend school and take part in sports activities like all other children. It also fights sexual violence against children. In parallel, the organisation runs a professional inclusion project for adults with disabilities..
The other key aspect of Handicap International’s programme in Senegal is its work to protection the population in the Casamance from the anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines which threaten their lives and hinder development in the region. This tireless fight against these anti-personnel mines began in 1999, with a vast campaign to educate the population about the risks. The organisation then built an orthopaedic fitting and rehabilitation centre at the regional hospital in Ziguinchor, to help the victims of these weapons. After carrying out its first mine clearance programme in the country from 2007 to 2012, Handicap International is implementing mine risk education and demining projects as part of a new one-year programme which started in September 2015.
Senegal is a key economic power in West Africa but its wealth is very unevenly distributed. A total of 45.1% of the country's population lives in extreme poverty and people with disabilities represent a large proportion of this group. Furthermore, in the south of the country, in Casamance, the population still lives with the threat of anti-personnel landmines.
The legislative framework on disability in Senegal has changed for the better since 2010, when the country ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, transposing the laws subsequently adopted into tangible political actions has been fraught with difficulties. People with disabilities in Senegal face obstacles every day as they try to access health, education and employment services. Victims of discrimination, they continue to fight to have their fundamental rights upheld. Handicap International has been working alongside them since 1995.
The country has also been very heavily impacted by the conflict opposing the Senegalese army to the autonomist movement of Casamance. The conflict, which has lasted for over 30 years, is hindering the country’s development. The proliferation of anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines has made much of the agricultural land in this region inaccessible. A total of 832 mine victims have been recorded since Senegal ratified the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty ratified in 1988. Of these, 635 survived their injuries and require healthcare, orthopaedic fitting and medical, social and economic support. Most of them are destitute.
The purpose of the convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. It also aims to promote their inherent dignity.
Recorded victims from 1988 to end of 2013. Source: Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, September 2014.