Making the cogs turn; an organizational overview of Handicap International

The intricate organizational hierarchy of Handicap International (HI) looks like a big confusing web from the outside, but from the inside the multiple departments, international communication, and independent projects working along side one another result in powerful shared vision, which is only strengthened by the work done in individual national offices, such as the United Kingdom office.

Former Executive Director Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier, along with another French doctor, founded HI in 1982. While he has now stepped down and is responsible for the newly formed HI Foundation, he still remains closely linked to HI and the new Executive director Manual Patrouillard.. Under the Director of Operations (DORT), there are 3 main actions at Handicap International: development, humanitarian and mine action.

The development department, which is overseen by Desks in Lyon, France is divided into the following regional divisions: West Africa (Niger, Mali, Togo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia); East & Southern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan); NAMESTAN (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen); and Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka); Latin America & Cariboobean (Columbia, Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua); Great – Lakes Africa (Burundi, Republican Democratic of Congo, Rwanda); and North – East & South East Asia (China, Laos, Vietnam) are all housed.

Recently, the Emergency Response and Mines division were combined into a humanitarian action division which now overseas all humanitarian response, including the Rapid Response Team, and mine action. Further, the Technical resource Division which includes the Emergency and Development Technical Units is also under the DORT.. The Development technical unit includes the following thematics: prevention & health, which focuses onmaternal, HIV AIDS, and health advocacy; rehabilitation, where physical and functional rehabilitation needs are assessed; social inclusion, which focuses on economic inclusion, inclusive education, personalized social support, , disaster and risk management, and victim assistance are located; and lastly, support to civil society unit which focuses on support disabled people’s organizations and inclusive development practices.

Both the knowledge management unit and the monitoring and evaluation impact unit have recently been reallocated from under the DRT to directly under the DORT. The KM Unit is responsible for coordinating and facilitating research, training, publications and dissemination. More simply put, the new Executive Director oversees the DORT, in addition to other key departments of the Federation such as Organisation & Human Resources, Fundraising & Communication, Finances andthe Federal Secretariat.

In their 2014 annual report, HI UK Chair John Nurse explained, “Our income has more than doubled from 2013 to 2014, allowing us to support 25 countries around the world with funding from the general public and a range of donors, including the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). This support is being used to fund a broad range of our work, from responding to emergencies such as the Syria and Ebola crises, to longer-term work on inclusive sports and education in Bangladesh, food security in Mali, and rehabilitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” This, in the broadest sense, shows the broad scope of HI UK’s work.

Nurse added, “We were also thrilled to welcome the launch of DFID’s much anticipated Disability Framework in December. This includes disability more comprehensively throughout DFID’s development and humanitarian work and outlines steps to better address the barriers faced by people with disabilities over the next 12 months. Handicap International UK played a vital part in securing this framework and we look forward to further engagement as DFID becomes a global disability champion. Finally, although we were sad to lose Jean-Baptiste Richardier as a trustee here in the UK, we are excited that the founder of Handicap International has gone on to head up our new global foundation in Geneva.”  This shows how excited HI UK is about their bright future with a new organizational structure.

The UK national office was founded in 1999, seventeen years after the organization itself was founded in 1982. The latest HI UK annual report states, “HI UK forms part of the global Handicap International Federation (HI), composed of a federal entity and eight national associations.” This, in brief, shows how instrumental the up and coming UK office is to the greater shared mission of Handicap International as a whole.

The report then highlights, “As a member of the HI Federation, HI UK supports and contributes to the work of the international network. An international governance structure and operational framework has been agreed within the federal network in order to rationalise and share resources and the Federation has agreed to meet any shortfall of funds as agreed in our joint strategy. In 2014, representation of HI UK’s Board on the Federal General Assembly was maintained at three seats, and one HI UK trustee is a member of the Federal Board of Trustees. Since 2010, the Federation has been allocating reserves to each national association, and has been contributing to private fundraising investment, UK charitable activities and support costs. For the amount outstanding between HI UK and the other national associations at year end, see notes 13 and 14. For every pound spent by the Handicap International Federal network in 2013 : 80.8p was spent on programmes 12.1p was spent on fundraising costs 7.1p was spent on administrative costs.” This shows how funds are used and supports the international HI shared vision in more detail.

Of particular interest are the many recent accomplishments of the UK office. The report highlights, “Continued our work as the UK government’s partner in training UK rehabilitation professionals for overseas deployment with the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR), notably with a deployment to Gaza and recognition in Australia for the work done in 2013 in the Philippines. Supported DFID in the launch of their Disability Framework, which aims to include disability more comprehensively throughout DFID’s development and humanitarian work. Persisted in influencing the post-2015 process to promote a new set of development goals that adequately take inequalities (including disability) into account. Further increased our support to HI’s overseas programmes by growing and diversifying our institutional and voluntary income, including doubling our institutional funding. This includes a strengthened capacity to respond to crises with substantial increases in humanitarian funding from the British Government through DFID (Ebola, Syrian crisis, Iraq and Gaza). Significantly raised our profile in the UK, increasing our media presence and reaching new supporters, with the help of Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary ‘The Invisible People’ and a feature article in The Observer.” This shows HI UK’s work on an international scale in relation to disability and inclusion across development and humanitarian work.

The report then goes on to explain, “Together, the eight national associations of the HI Federation mobilise resources and manage projects around the world. During 2014, HI ran 347 projects in 57 countries. HI has over 3,000 staff worldwide, 80% of whom are local colleagues, and we implement our programmes with a range of grassroots, national and international partners. With the generous support of the UK public and UK institutional donors, in 2014, HI UK supported 25 countries and one regional programme: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Sri Lanka and our Middle East regional programme.” This shows’s UK’s work in Africa, Asia, Middle East and the Caribbean.

The report explains, “Throughout 2014, HI UK has continued to integrate rehabilitation professionals into the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR). Operated by our partner, UK-Med, the UKIETR is a register of UK-based medical and health professionals who deploy, when requested, to sudden-onset disasters such as earthquakes. The UKIETR also has a field hospital ready for rapid deployment, operated by our other partner, Save the Children.” This, then shows HI UK and its current work and support of programs around the world.

It continues, “To fully integrate rehabilitation into the UKIETR, we have worked closely with Save the Children to ensure the field hospital is equipped with appropriate equipment, and that the UKIETR response is inclusive of people with disabilities. We also continue to work with both partners to provide rehabilitation and disability-related training and guidance to all UKIETR members, to ensure register staff are prepared to look at the longer term needs of the people we work with.” This continues to show the international scope of the world done in the UK office.

In regards to inclusive education, HI UK has, “Published a report, with the Global Campaign for Education UK, looking at funding from UK Aid for education for children with disabilities, which was launched during the Global Partnership for Education pledging conference in Brussels on 26th June. HI UK’s staff project-managed the report and were involved in steering group meetings, revisions and promotion of the report with targeted MPs. A number of HI case studies were also included. Collaborated with DFID about the contents of their topic guide to inclusive education, in which several HI resources were included, along with a video interview with our Inclusive Education Technical Advisor on their website. Finalised and published an Inclusive Education toolkit to provide HI field staff with relevant documents, videos and resources to help them implement all aspects of an IE project.  Published a module on disability within the Open University, as part of our Sierra Leone Girls’ Education project, funded by DFID.” This shows the lobbing efforts of the HI UK organization,

In regards to knowledge management and resource delivery, HI UK focuses on, “Managing Source, an international online resource centre on disability and inclusion issues, which provides free access to key resources, tools, manuals and policy papers across development and humanitarian contexts. In 2014, a new website was launched to make the Source collection more user-friendly and easier to navigate. We worked with a number of partners to widen the scope of available resources and our quarterly Disability and Inclusion e-bulletins were sent to over 10,000 global users. Coordinating Sustaining Ability, a project involving the ongoing use and development of the Sustainability Analysis Process (SAP) method3 which was developed with the International Centre for Evidence on Disability at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Through Sustaining Ability, we coordinated ongoing analysis and development of research on the sustainability of the rehabilitation sector, which included ongoing tool development, co-facilitating the third SAP workshop in Nepal and supporting an initial SAP workshop in Haiti. • Strengthening linkages with rehabilitation and academic research institutions and knowledge management networks, presenting HI’s work at numerous events and participating in groups of UK rehabilitation professionals interested in international work.” This shows the collaborative efforts made by HI in order to strengthen their goals with assistance from other organizations.

The report proudly announced that, “In 2014, we really raised our profile in the UK, increasing our presence in the media and therefore recruiting more supporters.” To bring long-term sustainability to our work, HI UK also invested in a door-to-door campaign to recruit regular donors in the latter part of 2014.” In addition, “2014 saw a significant growth in institutional funding from a diverse range of donors, attesting to a growing recognition of HI as a valuable, high-quality international development and humanitarian organization.” This shows the strong promise for the future of the HI UK office from the work that has gone on to make it to this point.

The structure and shared vision of the organization lead to the efficiency and global impact that Handicap International has had on the lives of thousands of people with disabilities and members of other venerable populations over the past thirty – three years.


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