An estimated 5 million Ethiopian children and adults have disabilities,
7.6% of the population. Of this group, 1.2 million have lower limb disabilities;
yet fewer than 500 wheelchairs are produced annually by Ethiopia's two
largest domestic suppliers.
More than 98% of Ethiopian school aged children with disabilities are
not attending school. These children suffer from a high incidence of isolation,
illiteracy, chronic poverty and social exclusion.
Community based rehabilitation (CBR) organizations in Ethiopia have identified
thousands of children who need mobility-related assistance in getting
to school, but these organizations lack the capacity to provide resources
in proportion to the overwhelming need. Moreover, the push rim and tricycle
wheelchairs that are provided to these children are poorly suited for
the road conditions in Ethiopia and do not meet the basic needs of the
children who are attempting to use them. These wheelchairs, often supplied
by foreign sources, suffer premature component failures that are difficult
to fix due to lack of replacement parts.