One month after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake affected 690,000 people in southwest Haiti, humanitarian needs in the country remain immense. The natural disaster wreaked havoc on the Grand’Anse, South and Nippes districts, causing over 2,200 deaths and putting 650,000 people in need of vital support.
“Day after day at the rehabilitation center, patients are multiplying,” says Guetchly-Nise, a physical therapist recruited by Humanity & Inclusion and its partner FONTEN in Les Cayes.
As food insecurity in Madagascar worsens, Humanity & Inclusion uses stimulation therapy and food aid to prevent long-term disabilities in malnourished children.
As the south of Madagascar—an island country off the east coast of continental Africa—faces its worst drought in 40 years, its people continue to face the brutal consequences of starvation and malnutrition. Years of insufficient rainfall and the added impact of climate change have ravaged the land and devastated the agricultural production that much of the population depends on. Today, more than 1.35 million people in the Atsimo Andrefana region face acute food insecurity, and are experiencing dangerous levels of hunger. Death rates are soaring and local health and social services are unable to meet such high demand. These challenges are worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Accessing food has become a real challenge for many families,” says Emilie Sauvanet, Humanity & Inclusion’s Country Director for Madagascar. "In this already very difficult context, the situation is made even worse for people with disabilities. They experience discrimination and socio-economic inequalities, high levels of insecurity, poor access to drinking water and sanitation facilities, difficulties in moving around and, above all, a lack of consideration for their specific needs. As in any crisis situation, people with disabilities, children and women are most affected.”
Long-term risks of malnutrition
The increasingly high levels of malnutrition and undernutrition in children under the age of 5 put them at heightened risk of delaying their growth or developing long-term disabilities.
Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) affects approximately 20 million children worldwide and is the estimated cause for 400,000 child deaths each year. In Madagascar, nearly half of all children under the age of 5 experience SAM, which is only worsening amid the current crisis. SAM can lead to difficulties in developing motor skills such as crawling, sitting and grasping, or to Hypotonia, a disorder that affects motor nerve control by the brain. If not properly managed, these developmental delays can transform into lifelong disabilities.
Humanity & Inclusion teams in the region have already identified more than 800 children in need of nutrition support and physical therapy to facilitate normal growth and development. Physical therapists use functional exercises, early childhood stimulation therapy and physical therapy to enable children with SAM to maintain normal weight gain, growth patterns and cognitive development. Through individual therapy sessions with trained professionals, children gain skills through interactive play. Techniques are also taught to their caregivers so they can continue therapy at home.
HI's TIALONGO project
After an assessment, Humanity & Inclusion launched the “TIALONGO” project in the Madagascar program. Teams provide urgent food support to people with disabilities and their households and are working to reduce the development of disabilities linked to malnutrition and undernutrition in children. Among others, the key outcomes include:
- Providing quality and sufficient food to people disproportionately affected by the crisis
- Improving the nutritional situation of children below the age of 5 and reducing the development of disabilities linked to malnutrition
- Educating local health professionals on early identification and management of disabilities
- Training physical therapists and occupational therapists in stimulation therapy
The project is expected to reach nearly 115,000 people in need of support.
Image: A mother and her children from Humanity & Inclusion’s early childhood project in Tana, Madagascar. Copyright: S. Bonnet/HI Archives, 2007
More than 1 million people face starvation in Madagascar. Humanity & Inclusion is launching an aid program to support people with disabilities, families and children at risk of malnourishment.
Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, putting more than 1.35 million people at risk of starvation and malnutrition. In southern Madagascar, particularly the Atsimo-Andrefana region, families are facing major food insecurity that threatens their lives and well-being. This is especially true for children, women and people with disabilities, who are most affected in times of crisis.
According to the World Food Program, more than 1 million people are in a food security “crisis,” nearly 300,000 are in “urgent” need of aid, and 14,000 people have reached the final “catastrophe” phase of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The number of people in this final phase is expected to double if sufficient aid is not provided urgently.
“The famine is everywhere, and it affects the majority of the population,” says Vincent Dalonneau, Humanity & Inclusion’s Operations Manager for Madagascar. “The death rates are high and household incomes are decreasing because people are too hungry to work. Health and social services are overloaded, children are at risk, and people with disabilities are further isolated and stigmatized.”
The potential consequences are particularly alarming for young children, as malnutrition and undernutrition can disrupt proper development and put them at a higher risk for developing both short- and long-term disabilities. Children are also likely to miss school or have difficulties learning due to symptoms of extreme hunger. Humanity & Inclusion teams have already identified approximately 800 children in need of support for malnourishment.
Physical therapy and nutrition
Humanity & Inclusion is launching an intervention project to provide emergency food aid to people with disabilities and their families (around 5,000 people), and reduce the risk of disability in children between the ages of 0 and 5 years due to malnutrition or undernutrition. Humanity & Inclusion physical therapists will provide stimulation therapy and early physical therapy to vulnerable children, enabling them to maintain normal weight gain, growth patterns and cognitive development through functional exercises and playing.
The project will train local physical therapists and occupational therapists in early childhood physical therapy, as well as conduct activities with community providers to raise awareness on disability development and the link between nutrition and disability. Humanity & Inclusion will support medical services linked to disability, and partner organizations plan to ensure long-term nutrition-specific support for identified children.
Families will receive food security assistance from Humanity & Inclusion in the form of food vouchers, cash transfer and food packages including standard items such as rice, peas, oil and salt.
In Malagasy, the project is called “TIALONGO: Tosika Iarahana Aby LONGO,” which translates to “Supporting all families together.” It is expected to reach at least 115,000 people.
Image: A mother and her young child were supported after their home flooded due to tropical storms in Madagascar in 2017. Copyright: Diana Vanderheyde/HI
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Record numbers of people are fleeing war, drought, and famine in South Sudan and Somalia. People with disabilities or injuries are forced to take enormous risks to reach a place of safety. Handicap International is working hard to make sure that thousands of people in similar situations across East Africa receive immediate card and long-term support. Collectively, we have a responsibility to ensure that all refugees live safe, independent, and dignified lives.Read more
Across East Africa, hundreds of thousands of people are leaving their homes in search of food and security. With so many people on the move and in need of assistance, Handicap International is concerned that vulnerable people–pregnant women, older people, and people with disabilities–may be forgotten. Handicap International program directors in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somaliland explain the situation in each country:Read more
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In South Sudan, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Humanity & Inclusion in South Sudan
Our teams first began operating in the area of South Sudan in 2006, working to improve protection, quality of life, and the promotion of rights of vulnerable populations.
South Sudan became an independent state on July 9, 2011, after 50 years of war that left two million dead, nearly 1.8 million internally displaced, and more than 262,560 refugees. Conflict broke out again in 2013, forcing Humanity & Inclusion to close its operations.
Since reentering the country in 2014, Humanity & Inclusion continues to respond to the immediate needs of the internally displaced population, and promote the equal rights and equal access to services for people with disabilities or injuries.
Although an internationally-mediated peace agreement was signed in 2015, South Sudan still face other challenges. The country has some of the worst health indicators in the world, such as a lack of access to basic services, the existence of landmines and unexploded ordinance, and high food insecurity.
Areas of Intervention
- Improving mental health
- Fighting disability discrimination
- Protection of internally displaced people
- Social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities
From 2006 to 2013, Humanity & Inclusion carried out a range of projects, shifting progressively from an emergency response to a resilience approach. Since 2014, our teams have once again been contributing to the urgent humanitarian response, integrating disability, age, gender, and vulnerability factors in all its actions.
Humanity & Inclusion's 113-person team focuses on rehabilitation care, psychosocial support and fighting discrimination against people with disabilities.
Our staff works from offices in Juba and Yei in Central Equatoria, Torit in Eastern Equatoria, Bor in Jonglei and deploys rapid response teams in multiple locations across the country.
Our Past Work
Humanity & Inclusion started operations in South Sudan in 2006, implementing emergency and development actions aimed fostering a culture of dignity, access, and inclusion for all people with disabilities and those who are vulnerable. Our work has evolved to meet the specific needs of the communities we serve.
Read on to learn more about our past work in South Sudan, and consider investing in our future.
Humanity & Inclusion has formed mobile teams that work with partner organizations to improve the inclusiveness and accessibility of their responses.
These teams have intervened in Yambio, Lankien, Malakal, Bor, Bientu and Yida.