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Disabilities in Somalia - Disability Action Network

  • Published: 2010-07-05 : Author: Disability Action Network
  • Synopsis: People with a disability in Somalia are often disregarded by their families as their disabilities are considered a burden.

Main Document

Not many people living in the West realize how people with disabilities survive in developing countries such as Somalia.

People with disabilities in Somalia are often disregarded by their families because they are thought to be a terrible burden to the family and add stigma to the community. Therefore, it is up to local organizations to take care of them and teach society that people with disabilities have a RIGHT to live a prosperous life and we, the people who are given the chance/right to lead any life we want recognize the wonderful work that local NGOs (like Disabilities Action Network) do for people whom are often times dispersed.

Disabilities Action Network (DAN) founded in 2002 is a nonprofit organization created to support the needs of people with disabilities in North-West of Somalia, Somaliland. This support in terms of Physical rehabilitation, Disability prevention and Human Rights Education for social and economic inclusion. DAN's main partner is Handicap International, France. We are trying to expand our horizons by proving access to education, create employment opportunities and develop a social work department where people can seek out resources in their communities.

Vision and Mission of DAN

Dan envisions helping build a future where all People With Disabilities have access to quality Medical Rehabilitation services and are fully integrated socially and economically in the Somaliland Society. This is carried out by providing Orthopedic appliances and physiotherapy services of good quality as well as Capacity Building Awareness Raising for human rights to improve the living conditions of People with Disabilities in Somaliland.


Although Somaliland is considered as a post conflict country, the many years of war caused considerable number of permanently disabled persons. Moreover, the legacy of war is the collapse of the health care system making preventable and curable diseases such as polio and meningitis to spread.

The poor assistance provided to pregnant women, and the lack of well functioning maternity hospitals, have resulted in many cases of children affected by cerebral palsy and congenital deformities.

Accurate figure of disabled population is not available in Somaliland, but there are roughly 350,000 with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities (10% of the population, WHO,1981). The Somaliland government does not yet have the financial and technical means to meet their rehabilitation needs. In collaboration with Ministry of Health of Somaliland, DAN trains professionals such physiotherapists, orthopedic technicians to carry out accessible and good quality rehabilitation service.

DAN's Current Activities Include:

5 Orthopedic Workshops, in the capital and in the regions, that produce devices of all types (shoes, wheelchairs, crutches, etc.) to improve mobility for the physically impaired individuals

4 Physiotherapy Departments to prevent, correct or reduce the severity of the impairments by means of therapeutic exercises, message, heat and cold therapy as well as electro-therapy (electrical muscle stimulation)

Parent Get-together Workshops for experience sharing and capacity building through counseling, medical information and managing activities of Daily living

Training of Medical Staff on Disability Prevention and early detection for Referral and intervention

Human Rights Education and Public Awareness Raising on disability

We want to expand our organization by providing more services. Here are possible areas of expansion opportunities;

Education Department find schools in the area that are suitable for our young patients

Social work Department to help our patients find proper resources in order to expand their horizons

Skills Training Department to help our patients find adequate employment so that they can become productive members of society

Physical Rehabilitation

Mobility and Restoring functional ability are the first steps towards social and economic integration of physically impaired persons and enjoying and accessing basic human rights including having the same opportunities available to other member of society: "Food shelter, education, recreation and employment.

Without appropriate physical rehabilitation, the people with disabilities become increasingly isolated and trapped in the vicious disability cycle.

First things first:

Physical rehabilitation is needed to ensure the full participation and inclusion in society of persons with disabilities. It is the 1st and most crucial step for inclusion.

Physical rehabilitation services must be accessible and equitable. They should be available at urban and village levels and for all types of impairments whatever the cause might be.

Physical rehabilitation leads to independence and personal autonomy as well as the ability to take control of one's own life!

Once the physically impaired persons stand and moves around, his/her self-esteem as well as acceptance by others around increases!

Budget and Time-frame

Our estimated overall budget: $100, 000 - $250,000 (negotiable)

Time frame of the project: within 1 to 3 years

Submitted by: Frah Ali Aman, Ottawa, ON, CANADA Representing DAN- Disability Action Network from Somaliland

Contact: Disability Action Network -

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