Disability Rights in Burkina Faso

Over 140 countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD); yet disabled people throughout the world continue to be excluded from fully participating in society. Such exclusion is even more prevalent in developing countries where a vicious cycle has developed between poverty and disability. Disabled people are among the poorest and most marginalised people in Burkina Faso, especially in rural areas where poverty is felt most strongly. According to the World Health Organisation, 13.9% of Burkina Faso’s population has a disability (WHO, 2011).

Handicap International found that (HI, 2009):

  • 66% of people with disabilities had never attended school
  • 76.8% were unemployed
  • 43.7% said they felt socially isolated

Poor living conditions, a lack of affordable healthcare and sanitation facilities and poor nutrition can cause disabilities whilst people with disabilities find themselves living in poverty as they are often denied access to education and employment opportunities.

LAFI Burkina promotes the Social Model of disability which asserts that an individual is ‘disabled’ by negative attitudes and environmental and institutional barriers that hinder their inclusion in society. Through focusing on the Social Model, LAFI Burkina will work with local partners to challenge obstacles to inclusion.

Barriers we seek to challenge:

  • Exclusion from development programmes: Despite the fact that disabled people are amongst the poorest of the poor in Burkina Faso, many NGOs are still not including disabled people in their development programmes.
  • Negative attitudes:  Disabled people are often socially isolated in their communities and do not enjoy equal opportunities to access their civil and political rights.
  • Double discrimination faced by disabled women: Women with disabilities face both gender discrimination and prejudice on the basis of their disability. Girls with disabilities are less likely to receive an education and subsequently have fewer opportunities to find employment and are more vulnerable to neglect and exploitation.
  • Lack of work opportunities: In February 2006, HSB commissioned a sociologist to conduct a study on the needs of physically disabled people in Ouagadougou. The study revealed that 60% of those surveyed had a monthly income of less than £20 on which to survive. The same study revealed that disabled people can earn more begging on the street (£18 per month) than working (average of £15 per month).

Burkina Faso ratified the UNCRPD on the 23rd July 2009, however, much work remains to be done to ensure that it is applied and respected. Disabled People’s Organisations in Burkina now face the task of translating the rights enshrined in the convention into transformation on the ground. 

LAFI Burkina seeks to work with local disabled people’s organisations to reassert individual rights through providing disabled people with knowledge of their rights, educating wider society and empowering people with disabilities to be a force for positive change.