Landscape under flooding water
Two years after the flooding which devastated the Orissa region, the coastal areas of the state in the north-east of India have now been...



1,200,000 euros


  • National staff: 72 salaried staff
  • Expatriate staff: 4 salaried staff

Human development index (HDI) 134/187
GDP per capita 3296 $ per annum
Surface area 3,287,590
Population 1241.5 million inhabitants

mother with son in wheelchair


Handicap International addresses a wide range of disability issues in India by working for change in institutional and community policies. Our aim is to ensure disability issues are systematically taken into account in development actions.


India is an emerging world power with a flourishing economy. However, 41.6% of its population still lives below the poverty line (UNDP 2011) and major economic and social disparities exist between its different states.

The World Bank estimates that India has between 40 and 80 million people with disabilities. The poorest segments of the population are the worst affected due to their limited access to care, education and employment. For these populations, disability only serves to fuel poverty and social exclusion.

The key factors contributing to the rise in the number of people with disabilities in India are mainly a poor diet, disadvantaged living and working conditions, limited access to health care, a lack of sanitation and hygiene, and restricted access to information.

There is a heightened risk of disability within communities, particularly in rural areas. Women suffer from a particular disadvantage due to gender-based discrimination while children with disabilities are identified very late, limiting the impact of prevention and care activities. People with disabilities from lower casts are doubly disadvantaged in Indian society.

Natural disasters such as drought, hurricanes, flooding and landslides are a constant and acute threat in India, with the poorest states worst affected. On average, 40 million people are displaced from their homes by natural disasters every year. The most vulnerable populations are the worst affected socially and economically, especially people with disabilities.


Handicap International launched its first operation in India in 1988, providing technical support to a community-based rehabilitation centre in Pondicherry, southern India.

After launching an emergency response to the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the organisation developed a more permanent structure in India and has gone on to develop public health services and disability-related projects in the region.

In 2012, Handicap International manages projects in six Indian states: Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Delhi, Orissa, West Bengal and, in the near future, Chhattisgarh.


We have identified five intervention areas

  • Rehabilitation of people with disabilities in areas affected by military action.
  • Prevention and early identification of disabilities; referral to existing public health services.
  • Inclusion of disability issues in disaster management policies and associated risk reduction activities.
  • Promoting the economic and social inclusion of people with disabilities by improving livelihood opportunities and supporting the exercise of their rights.
  • Promoting the rights of people with disabilities.


The main beneficiaries targeted by Handicap International in India are people with disabilities, their families, and isolated rural communities affected by natural disasters whose members include people with disabilities.
Other beneficiaries include various disabled people’s organisations, NGOs, state authorities (ministries for health and social action, and state disaster management authorities) and public services (hospitals, district health centres and social security offices).

In 2011, 7,697 beneficiaries with disabilities directly benefited from personalised services provided by HI, allowing them to access services related to their disability, disability prevention or social inclusion.

9,112 professionals benefited directly from Handicap International’s actions through training in prevention, rehabilitation, disaster risk reduction and social inclusion.

35 local partner organisations worked with Handicap International in five states, including local NGOs, disabled people’s organisations and government-run public services.

More than 6 million people in five states benefited from the organisation’s media disability-awareness activities.


Handicap International teamed up with a local partner to set up a post-operative unit in its rehabilitation centre serving isolated districts affected by fighting in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the only one of its kind in the region. Patients who need corrective surgery, rehabilitation care and long-term post-operative recovery are treated in this new centre. This new service increases the potential impact of surgery more generally and at a lower cost. It also facilitates coordination with hospital services and helps families on low incomes to physically access and pay for rehabilitation and care in the region.