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Six years after the earthquake, Handicap International is still working with the Haitian people

Inclusion Prevention Rehabilitation

On 12th January 2010, an earthquake devastated Haiti, killing over 230,000 people and injuring over 300,000. In order to help the victims, Handicap International deployed resources on an unprecedented scale. Today, the organisation is continuing its work with the Haitian people.

Physiotherapist Olivier Champagne with a patient, Yolande, in an MSF hospital.

Physiotherapist Olivier Champagne with a patient, Yolande, in an MSF hospital. | © William Daniels/Handicap International

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There for the long term

Six years after the earthquake that ravaged Haiti, Handicap International is implementing new projects and providing sustained support.

Confronted with a lack of local rehabilitation skills following the earthquake, the organisation launched the first training course for rehabilitation technicians in the country. In August 2015, 72 students graduated [1]. Handicap International is also upgrading the skills of professionals who were already practising but who have not undergone any formal training, as well as improving access to high-quality rehabilitation services and providing support to health facilities.

In addition, since the earthquake, many people have been living in camps as they lost their homes. As part of a project aiming to relocate these people into new areas, Handicap International is ensuring that housing is accessible to people with disabilities.

The organisation is also working to increase protection of abandoned children and reduce the risks associated with natural disasters.

Handicap International has also enabled over 200 people – primarily people with disabilities – to develop an economic activity and is working with local economic development stakeholders to ensure that people with disabilities are included in their actions. Finally, the organisation is raising awareness about road safety among the population and promoting access to public transport for people with disabilities.

The impact of your support

Just a few days after the earthquake struck Haiti on 12th January 2010, Handicap International mobilised hundreds of people [2], deployed emergency care activities, distributed aid and set up an orthopaedic-fitting workshop. As a result, over 90,200 people have received basic care (access to healthcare, etc.) and attended rehabilitation sessions. The organisation has provided artificial limbs to over 1,400 people, distributed over 6,000 mobility aids (wheelchairs, crutches and walker frames) and provided psychosocial support to over 25,000 people. Handicap International teams have also been responsible for the building of over 1,000 shelters for the most vulnerable families and delivered over 20,000 tonnes of aid for people affected by the disaster.


On 12th January 2010, Haiti had only 13 certified physiotherapists. To tackle the absence of local rehabilitation skills, the association is promoting rehabilitation professions in the country. In August 2015, 72 student rehabilitation technicians graduated3 from a Handicap International training course.4 They are now able to design prostheses or assist physiotherapists. The association is also supplementing the training of another 40 rehabilitation technicians who were already practising without having undertaken any official training. In addition, Handicap International is promoting access to high-quality rehabilitation services and providing support – primarily organisational and technical in nature – to health facilities.

Natural disaster risk management

In order to increase the protection of communities against the risks of disasters, the organisation has prepared nine areas for potential natural disasters. In these locations, Handicap International has provided specific assistance to 224 of the most vulnerable families (people with disabilities, the very elderly, etc.) to protect themselves in the event of future disasters and has provided them with emergency kits.

The organisation is raising awareness among and collaborating with various stakeholders – authorities, civil protection and project partners – to ensure that the most vulnerable are included in their natural disaster preparedness and response plans. In addition, three buildings acting as temporary shelters in the event of a disaster (900-person capacity) have been adapted so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.


Handicap International is running a project in Port-au-Prince to help people with disabilities find employment so that they can earn a living and contribute to the income of their family. The organisation is building the capacities of a vocational training centre, a market and a micro-finance institution to include people with disabilities and assist them to develop a career plan and start work. The organisation has also helped over 300 people develop an economic activity.

Child protection

In Haiti, over 80% of children have been victims of violence (physical and psychological) and over 3,000 children are living on the streets with a further 28,000 living in children’s homes5. Children with disabilities continue to be the most vulnerable.

Handicap International is assisting the Institute for Social Well-being and Research (IBESR)6 to strengthen public mechanisms and protection associations in Haiti to combat all forms of abuse, exploitation and abandonment of children with disabilities or without parental care. In particular, the organisation is assisting the IBESR to improve the care and treatment of abandoned children, including children with disabilities, in hospitals, along with the test measures for foster families.

Handicap International is also partnered with the PEPFAR network for a pilot project that seeks to promote access to sexual and reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention services for children with disabilities.

Road safety

Handicap International is raising awareness of road safety among the populations in Delmas (Port-au-Prince) and increasing access to public transport for people with disabilities. In particular, the organisation has promoted the creation of two new bus stops in Delmas and made two buses accessible to people with disabilities.

Returning to town

Following the earthquake, many people lost everything and are still living in camps. As part of a project aiming to relocate these populations into new areas7, Handicap International has provided support to over 670 people with disabilities to improve their social integration into their new environment and has assisted over 380 in selecting their accommodation and ensured it is accessible. The organisation is also promoting access to healthcare and rehabilitation services for them, as well as their employment and providing individualised, specific support to each person.

  1. 22 orthopaedic technicians and 50 rehabilitation technicians.
  2. Peaking at as many as 600 people, including 80 expatriates.
  3. 22 orthopaedic technicians and 50 rehabilitation technicians.
  4. First training of this type in Haiti.
  5. Over 80% of children had been victims of violence: data from 2011 (UNICEF)
  6. Public appointee for child protection.
  7. Organised by the NGOs CARE, ION, GOAL, HELPAGE and CONCERN.
Date published: 11/01/16


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