to walk and work again

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Context 2 What are the objectives of the SFD? 3 Where does the SFD work? 4 How does the SFD work? 5 How did the SFD come into being? 6 How is the SFD financed? 6 To walk and work again 8


More than 600 million people throughout the world suffer from disabilities of various kinds. It is estimated that 80% of all people with disabilities live in low-income countries where the government and local institutions often do not have the means to meet their rehabilitation needs. The overall aim of the rehabilitation process is to reduce restrictions on the activities of people with disabilities so that they may participate fully in society. Various measures may be needed to achieve the final goal; physical rehabilitation, for instance, includes the provision of assistive devices (prostheses, orthoses, walking aids and wheelchairs) and appropriate physiotherapy. Enhanced mobility represents the first step towards an improved quality of life. It gives people better access to health care, education, and work, and allows them to take part in the social and cultural life of their communities. Without this, people with disabilities may become increasingly isolated and unable to escape poverty. A person who is physically impaired needs lifelong access to rehabilitation services. For example, a five-year-old child who has undergone an amputation will require about 25 prostheses during his or her life, plus repairs and adjustments in between. Helping people to regain their mobility, and indeed to maintain it for the rest of their lives, is the guiding principle of all ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD) projects.


What are the objectives of the SFD?
The SFD’s objectives are: to enhance access to physical rehabilitation services for people with disabilities; to maintain and improve the quality of the services that are provided; to promote the long-term viability of rehabilitation centres providing such services.

A person who is physically impaired needs lifelong access to rehabilitation services.


© Rhythms Monthly/ BUZZOLA, Alberto

Where does the SFD work?
As a general rule, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) physical rehabilitation projects cover needs in countries where the context has led to a permanent operational presence of the organization. The SFD operates mainly in countries where the ICRC has no permanent activities. Where necessary, the SFD provides assistance to people with disabilities who were formerly assisted by the ICRC. The SFD’s involvement thereby contributes to bridging the gap between the withdrawal from the ICRC – in conformity with its mandate – and the moment when the government or local institutions can take on full responsibility for physical rehabilitation centres. In low-income countries, the SFD may also support physical rehabilitation projects that have not previously been assisted by the ICRC, provided that its criteria for doing so are met.



How does the SFD work?
By using the standards, technology and strategies developed by the ICRC, the SFD offers support that is adapted to the needs of each assisted centre. This helps the centres consolidate or even expand their services. The SFD also aims to render the centres autonomous. The SFD combines people-oriented support for individuals with structureoriented support for the institutions providing the services. Its people-oriented activities aim to promote access to effective and quality rehabilitation services by: reimbursing centres for the services they provide to people with disabilities; supporting referral policies and information campaigns to inform people of the services available; covering – during their rehabilitation – the costs of transport, accommodation and food for people with disabilities. Its structure-oriented activities primarily aim to promote capacity building by: providing centres with financial and material support; developing local capacity and skills to provide quality devices and services in an efficiently run setting, through technical and managerial support and training; supporting national bodies responsible for physical rehabilitation. The duration of SFD support is directly linked to the ability of the local partner to develop its capacity to provide services to the population, and to its ability to become completely autonomous. Like other development projects, SFD projects can stretch over several years.


How did the SFD come into being?
The SFD was established by the ICRC in 1983 to help ensure the continuity of its projects on behalf of people affected by conflict or war, and to support physical rehabilitation centres in low-income countries. In 2001, the SFD became an independent foundation under Swiss law. It is governed by a policy-making Board, consisting of ICRC representatives and other members. Operational decisions are taken by an Executive Committee. The SFD’s director coordinates the day-to-day activities together with the heads of its field offices. The SFD maintains a standard reporting system based on that of the ICRC and its accounts are examined yearly by an external auditor. SFD projects are regularly evaluated by internal and external assessors. The SFD has a distinct identity and responsibilities of its own. However, close links remain between the ICRC and the SFD, notably in such matters as operational policy, project implementation, human resources and training.

How is the SFD financed?
The SFD relies exclusively on voluntary contributions to cover its costs both in the field and at its headquarters. Its donor base consists of governments, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, foundations and private donors. In addition to its initial donation of one million Swiss francs, made in 1983, the ICRC continues to provide support in the form of services: expertise, logistical and administrative support, office space and other facilities for SFD staff working in the field and at headquarters in Geneva.

The duration of SFD support is directly linked to the ability of the local partner to develop its capacity to become completely autonomous.




To walk and work again
Restoring and maintaining physical mobility form the backbone of SFD activities. The SFD aims to improve quality of life for persons with disabilities. The SFD also focuses on strengthening physical rehabilitation institutions and on ensuring the sustainability of the services they provide. This two-pronged approach benefits both the people requiring physical rehabilitation services as well as the institutions providing such services. High professional standards, efficiency and flexibility are the SFD’s golden rules.


11.2008 / 2000

The ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled supports physical rehabilitation services in low-income countries, with priority given to former projects of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled 19, avenue de la Paix 1202 Geneva Switzerland Tel.: +41 22 730 2357 / 2401 Fax: +41 22 730 3787 E-Mail:

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SFD regional office ICRC Delegation – PO Box 5701 W.15, K.28, H.No.117 / Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tel.: +251 11 275 6240 Fax: +251 11 277 7222 E-Mail:

Projects 2009
Africa (32)
Ethiopia Benin Cameroon Guinea-Bissau Kenya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania

L. America (11)
Nicaragua Morocco / Bolivia Western Sahara Nigeria Somalia Tanzania Togo Zambia Zimbabwe Cuba Ecuador El Salvador Haiti Honduras Peru

SFD regional office Ho Chi Minh Office, C/o Rehabilitation Centre 70 Ba Huyen Than Quan Street, District 3 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel.: +84 8 393 25 452 Fax: +84 8 393 22 124 E-Mail:

Asia (18)
Vietnam Bangladesh India Laos

Europe (2)
Albania Tajikistan

Latin America
SFD regional office CAPADIFE – Oficina; De la Iglesia El Carmen 21/2 cuadras al norte C.P. PA 849, Managua, Nicaragua Tel./Fax: +505 266 7803 E-Mail:

The ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled operates primarily from three regional bases situated in Africa (Ethiopia), in Asia (Viet Nam) and in Latin America (Nicaragua). The Albania and Tajikistan projects are supervised by the SFD’s headquarters. In 2009, 10 expatriate specialists are providing material, technical and financial support to the 63 SFD projects in 30 countries. Most of these centres are run by government institutions, others by NGOs or National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

SFD Headquarters 19, Avenue de la Paix 1202 Geneva, Switzerland Tel.: +41 22 730 2357 / 2401 Fax: +41 22 730 37 87 E-Mail:

In 2008 assistance provided by the SFD was used to help rehabilitate more than 17,000 people worldwide: including the fitting with some 9,000 prostheses (devices to replace missing limbs or parts of limbs) and 10,000 orthoses (devices to support dysfunctional limbs or parts of limbs); 25% percent of the amputees receiving assistance were mine victims.
For further details see: SFD Annual Report 2007, SFD Appeal 2008 and SFD Mid-Term Report 2008

Donations can be made into the bank account: ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled UBS SA Zurich-Switzerland BIC: UBSWCHZH80A IBAN: CH13 0024 0240 6291 1600 W

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