Koné Draman loves his new job as a water-seller

[Photo credit: Anna Jefferys/IRIN]

BAMAKO, 18 October 2010 (IRIN) – Mali’s disabled have access to some free healthcare options, and are supported by a number of associations and charities, but what they really want is to find work and contribute to the national economy, says NGO Handicap International (HCI). ”I want to control my work, my life myself,” said Koné Draman, who was paralysed from the waist down in a 2001 car accident. “I want to be a part of the community that way.”

A lot of progress has been made on this front, said Moctar Ba, president of the Malian Association of Handicapped People (FEMAPH), but many disabled people still lack the necessary education or skills to earn a living other than through begging.

While the World Health Organization estimates 10 percent of the Malian population is disabled, Ba thinks the percentage is much higher because of road traffic accidents and illnesses left untreated.

Government jobs

Most of the employment progress has taken place in the public sector. Government ministries practice positive discrimination to hire people with disabilities, encouraging disabled people to take the entrance exam for civil servant employment. Some 241 young disabled graduates were accepted into the civil service in 2009, said Ba. The Ministry of Social Affairs has been particularly proactive in hiring people with disabilities, said HCI.

The government has signed the International Labour Organization Convention on Decent Work, which addresses employment rights of disabled people; and Mali is the seventh African country to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Private sector lagging

But stigma runs rife in the private sector, where companies shun hiring disabled people, said Ba. “Employers tend not to see the intrinsic value of a person… but only see their disability, which is a shame,” he told IRIN. Barthélemey Sangala, FEMAPH coordinator, backs this up: “Most disabled can’t find private sector jobs as most companies think they can’t work.”

The attitudes of employers, educators and disabled people themselves must be changed, said HCI head in Mali Marc Vaernewyck. “We don’t push for charity, but to help disabled people access existing institutions… to help them build self-confidence and self-esteem and drop stigma,” he told IRIN. “Even when armed with a diploma, most disabled people lack the confidence to go out and seek a job because of these attitudes,” he told IRIN.

One way to change attitudes is to encourage proactive disabled citizens to set up their own businesses, said HCI project coordinator Sidy Ahmed Adiawiakoy, by helping them access micro-credit loans.

Draman applied for a loan to set up a water pump in Bamako’s run-down neighbourhood of Sablibougou, where most residents live in mud houses, with no electricity or running water.

“I knew getting water was difficult, so I went to the association in 2009 to see if I could set up a water pump,” Draman told IRIN. HCI donated US$425 towards the pump and helped Draman get a bank loan for the remaining $638. He has since paid off the loan in full.

He charges the equivalent of five US cents for 10 litres of water, taking home US$6-10 in profit per day. Before the pump was installed, residents paid water deliverers 42 cents to bring 10 litres of water to their houses, he said.

The change Draman has gone through is remarkable, said Adiawiakoy. “He used to do little, asking his neighbours to pass on meals… Now he is actively contributing to improving life in the neighbourhood.”

Adiawiakoy is confident that larger companies are starting to be more open to hiring disabled people. In a recent study of 200 businesses, some 120 of them employed people with some form of disability.


But change can only come about on a wider scale if disabled children are actively encouraged to attend school, said HCI’s Vaernewyck. Too often, they are either not sent, or they drop out after primary level as teachers are not equipped to meet their needs.

Specialist private schools for those with sight problems, hearing problems and learning difficulties, operate in the capital, and FEMAPH subsidizes some children’s school fees. But they, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and HCI want more disabled people to be included in regular schools. “We want inclusive schools where disabled people are trained the same way and under the same environment as all other children,” said FEMAPH’s Ba. Inclusive education is the key to dismantling stigma, he told IRIN.

There has been some success: Enrollment of disabled children in regular schools has increased; and the Education Ministry now runs a project teaching secondary school teachers brail, but such programmes need to be expanded to reach more children, said Ba.


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  2 Responses to “MALI: Disabled seek jobs, not charity”

  1. Dear Friends

    DEF is a non-governmental organization working for the development of the disabled and women since 2004. As you know that people of Pakistan are suffering with flood disaster. A lot of relief work being done by Government level as well as NGOs and private sector level but it is observed by DEF team in a survey that mostly the beneficiaries are normal people specially men who can access to the distribution points or relief camps but the women and the people with disabilities are being ignored. So we decided to work with up given segments of the society. DEF appreciate your work for the betterment of the humanity to bring a change to the world. Enclosed are the details of the DEF relief work. We would like to receive a feed back from your organization and we hope that our relation will go on long terms to make world a better place.

    We hope to receive an acknowledgment.

    Irum Naz

    Disabled Empowerment Foundation (DEF)
    Toba Tek Singh (Punjab, Pakistan)
    Cell: 0333-6871022
    Site: http://defpak.webs.com
    Email us:

    Phone: +92-462009090

    Floods in Pakistan

    Emergency Response Program for persons with disability in Pakistan:

    Back Ground:
    Floods in Pakistan hit vast areas of Pakistan affecting over two million people across the country. Flash floods devastated houses, standing crops, livestock, roads and other infrastructure. Millions migrated to safe places however large number of people stranded in water among them were persons with disability and livestock. However before any major mishap the above mentioned segments of life were neglected in relief operation by government, local and International aid giving organizations.

    Disabled Empowerment Foundation (DEF) established in 2004 to empower persons with disability in the city of Toba Tek Singh. It has been making known the convention of the rights of persons with disability. It has a vision to create a better world for persons with disability. The following activities have been conducted.

    • Educating opinion makers on the Convention of Persons with Disability

    • working with government social welfare department to issue the disabled certificate from the government. The certificate official indicates the kind of disability and the certificate holder is given special benefit from the government. Since the process is complicated for a person with disability and he/she finds difficult to processed.

    • Special events are organized to draw the attention of the society to respect and work for the persons with disability.

    • Educating parents on the methods to deal with special children.

    Response Program for persons with disability

    DEF planned to initiate Emergency response program for the persons with disability.

    DEF made several assessment visits to various flood hit areas in South Punjab to start a response program. It found the followings

    • Rescue and relief from NGOs, government and International organizations was handed out to men.

    • Children, women and particularly persons with disability were not taken care of.

    • Persons with disability had no access to distribution points so they remained dependent and starved and suffered a lot for displacement.

    • Persons with disability were badly ignored.

    • In many cases DEF found people like unconscious.

    • DEF made contacts with Flood Control room and district administration to obtain the data of the flood hit disabled. However the government failed to provide any data in the flood hit areas or people spread in different clusters.

    • District Jhang and Layyah are closed to Toba Tek Singh (DEF is located in Toba Tek Singh central Punjab)

    • DEF assessment team made urgent survey to register the persons with disability in different clusters of the above mentioned districts.

    • In the meantime DEF launched flood relief camps in district Toba Tek Singh in the centre of public place to create awareness and fund raising for the flood hit persons with disability of Layyah and Jhang.

    • DEF registered 246 persons with disability in District Layyah and 268 in District Jhang.

    DEF Emergency Response Program:

    DEF planned to facilitate 1000 families in District Jhang and Layyah with relief packages. The criteria to nominate families were women and people with disabilities. Each flood hit family in flood hit areas was given a registration and they were issued cards from DEF to collect relief package. The Package is as below,

    Ration for 15 days including wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, rice, lentils, clothes, beddings, utensils etc each package costs Rupees eight thousand which makes US 100 $s. the package was also included hygiene kit which was comprised of anti-germ hand washes, soaps, dish wash bars, detergent powder and dettol bottles to avoid expected epidemic diseases.

    Each distribution was made in government institutions and in presence of media, government and other social change agents so they may draw the attention of the public to support the persons with disability.

    There were suggestions to distribute package at the door steps of the persons with disability, however to avoid any uncertainty and smooth flow of the package the distributions were organized in government institutions and beneficiaries were provided food and fare. The pictures are attached with to show the extreme situation of the persons with disability hit by floods.


    Muhammad Aslam 26, Mouza Dolu Nashab, Lohanch Nashab, District Layyah, said, “When the flood news spread in my village, each one tried to reach on safe places. My family members were trying to save first the families who were normal and ration and livestock. Nobody thought of me. I cried and my mother helped me to sit over the donkey.

    When the family was walking through the flood water, I was not sure that we will reach to some safe place, however, walking twenty to twenty five miles, we were managed to reach dyke. For days, I remained still uncertain weather, I will remain alive or not as there was no relief coming in. My brothers and other families went in search of food and tents but they failed for next few days.

    The government air lifted the food article which was difficult for person like. I thanked God when I met team members of DEF. When they interviewed, I got relieved. They registered me to support my whole family through me. When my family came to know beddings, ration and other relief will be given because of me, they all apologized for not been so caring to my needs.”

    Musarat Mia, 46 from Pir Abdul-ul-Rehman, Tehsil Ahmad Pursial, District Jhang, has two young girls mentally retarded. The young girls are 17 & 19. The family was not registered during the survey as they were shifted to their relations. When the water was receded, the family came and when DEF organized its fourth distribution.

    Musarat Mai came to distribution and asked to include her daughters. The team leader refused as they saw she was not registered and had not visited her daughters. On refusal, the women went some 30 miles and brought her two young daughters walking like animal. They did not have any support like wheel chairs. Their clothes were dirty and foot and hands were badly injured for traveling. The girls hardly traveled a couple of weak.

    Team of DEF met with a 72 yrs old woman who got injured in flood disaster. She told us that when she was running to save her life with her family, she struck with something and fell on the road, meanwhile a truck came to the road and crushed her right foot badly under its giant tyres, she was badly hurt and her family somehow managed to take her to some safe place but not having any kind of access to medical facilities, the wound could not be cured and she lost her foot and now dependant on her family to move around.

    Future Plans:

    Relief activities are almost done and it is time to work on rehabilitation work on sustainable bases. DEF intends to provide medical facilities to the people who have already some kind of disabilities or got disabled in flood disaster. Given below would be the DEF priorities.

    • providing roofs to the disabled to help them to arrange proper shelters as the winter season is about to start even in some areas of Pakistan it is already started and the people are forcely living under the open sky

    • Facilitate the most needy people with disabilities with wheel chairs, crutches, hearing aids and if needed also with physiotherapy treatment

    • Organizing medical camps to provide vaccination to the women and people with disabilities to avoid epidemic diseases spread out due to flood water

    • Advocacy & lobbying with local government body as well as on media level to highlight the issues and value recognition to the disabled

    • conducting awareness seminars on epidemic diseases and reproductive health for mothers

    • Income generating program with women and mothers to enable them to look after the special family members in a better way

    • Capacity building and skill development programs for the disabled to make them a confident, independent and productive member of the society

    • Equipping children with disabilities with standard education to give them a bright future.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Very encouraging and goes mostly unnoticed.

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