Handicap International aims to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, promote their full participation in the economic and social life of their communities, and prevent the causes of disability in Benin.
Benin has enjoyed a stable democracy since 1990, although its economic situation remains fragile: 47.2% of the population lives in extreme poverty (UNDP: human development report 2011). More than 840,000 people have disabilities in Benin, according to World Health Organisation estimates, around 84,000 of whom need to be fitted with orthopaedic devices.
Following a request from Benin’s Ministry of the Family and National Solidarity in 2010, Handicap International set up projects on filariasis control and the rights of people with disabilities in Cotonou and in the departments of Mono and Couffo. The organisation had already performed orthopaedic-related activities in Benin in 1999-2002.
Handicap International’s activities focus on three main areas:
a. Control of lymphatic filariasis (a disease that leads to serious physically disabling deformities).
b. Improving road safety
c. Changing the way people see disability and helping people with disabilities exercise their rights (education, training, employment, etc.)
Handicap International’s actions in Benin are targeted at people with lymphatic filariasis, health professionals and the Network of People with Disabilities on the Atlantic Coast (RAPHAL), and people with disabilities and their families.
Handicap International has created a Network of People with Disabilities on the Atlantic Coast (RAPHAL) to ensure organisation members develop actions in a coordinated and consistent manner for greater impact. 36 people with disabilities from this network gave blood during a blood donation operation organised on their own initiative. This operation helped change the way the population sees people with disability and provided a practical way of including them in the social life of their community.