Inspiring confidence, gaining independence and growing livelihoods in Tanzania

The challenge

  • More than 3.5 million people in Tanzania are disabled
  • 65% of disabled people live in rural areas
  • 1 in 4 children are disabled from birth
  • 42% of disabled people have never attended school

Poverty is widespread in Tanzania and a large percentage of the population survives on farming. Formal work is hard to come by, especially in rural areas. And it’s even more difficult for disabled people to secure steady paid work.

Access to appropriate mobility devices is also a problem. Reportedly, only 16,000 adults have a wheelchair. Unable to get around easily, disabled people are often isolated from their families, friendship groups and communities.

Poorly fitted wheelchairs also mean that they are vulnerable to developing life-threatening complications like pressure sores and respiratory problems.

In addition to these physical barriers to independence, work and school, disabled people also face discrimination that worsens their exclusion.

For people like Shamimu, financial worries and isolation from the community can mean a spiral into depression.

"I don't feel I have a disability but the community think differently," she told us when we first met. "And we are struggling. We can't pay the rent and the landlord has threatened to evict us. I have no idea what we'll do."

Our priorities

Supporting established wheelchair services

After successfully piloting a mentoring programme for local clinical and technical staff in Moshi, we're committed to providing ongoing support to keep improving wheelchair assessment and fitting skills. Our aim is for quality services to be sustainable and available long after our programmes end.

We support staff to travel to remote communities where wheelchair provision and maintenance is lacking. We also give training to community services that already provide wheelchair maintenance, so that disabled people don’t have to travel as far to get their needs met.

Inspiring confidence and resilience

We’ve seen the impact that peer mentors can have on disabled people, so we’re expanding these networks. Through our expanding peer-to-peer programmes, experienced wheelchair users provide mentorship, advice and support to those who are new to using a wheelchair or unable to access rehabilitation.

We're training more peer trainers to help disabled people to manage their health, improve their wheelchair skills and understand their rights. Through home visits, these peer trainers give direct support exactly where it's needed.

Shamimu told us how her peer training has made an impact: "Since Motivation peer training, I have learnt the importance of daily stretching, how to manage my bladder and how to change my catheter myself. I am very happy for this - it is a huge relief." 

Growing livelihoods

Many wheelchair users struggle to find work, despite a strong desire to provide for themselves and their families. With funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, we’re working with disabled people in Arusha and Kilimanjaro to start their own businesses.

We’re providing training in business essentials such as book-keeping and marketing, as well as materials that will enable someone to get their first enterprise off the ground.

We're also helping communities to set up savings groups that will allow them to access finance for their new business ventures.

Our aim is to empower disabled people to support one another and create opportunities for work, so they can build their own income.

Shamimu is now starting to see a future for her and her family:

Before the accident, I used to cook snacks like chapatti and samosas so I'd like to do this again. I need something to keep us going. I want to start up a small business.

Find out more

For further information about our work in Tanzania, please get in touch on 0117 966 0398 or [email protected].

Support Motivation

You can help us empower disabled people in Tanzania and throughout our other focus countries by making a donation today.