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It is estimated that 10% of the population of Burkina Faso is disabled. For this group, acceptance, social inclusion, opportunities and equality are difficult in all aspects of life; from education and employment to health care and family life.

Many of the problems disabled people face are a result of entrenched superstitions in Burkinabe society. One example of this is a belief, preached by witch doctors, that by having sex with a disabled woman one will become rich. This is believed by many people across Burkina Faso and can have dangerous repercussions for disabled women.

Discrimination affects every aspect of life for disabled people in Burkina Faso, even within the family, as often disabled children are valued less than other children. Many taxi drivers will not take disabled people and often entry to local restaurants and businesses is simply refused. Added to this, many public services, such as schools and hospitals, are not adequately adapted for disabled access, and do not have ramps, elevators etc, making everyday life even more difficult.

Amongst disabled people in Burkina Faso, literacy is less than 1%, compared to 43% amongst the rest of the population. Even those who have had access to education experience difficulties finding paid work as a result of discrimination. Moreover, many employers will simply not employ disabled people. This lack of opportunities leads many disabled people to seek work as artisans. However, often having had no training, they find it hard to market and sell their products.

Burkina Faso has one of the highest levels of poverty in the world. Its poverty rate (the number of people living below the poverty line) was estimated at 46.7% in 2009 by the World Bank and, in 2011, the country ranked 181st out of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

It is in this context that Tiguong Nonma works to support disabled artisans in making a living and creating a better life for themselves.