Persons with physical disabilities develop their full potential in an inclusive society.
The ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled strengthens national capacity in less-resourced countries to remove barriers faced by persons with physical disabilities, by fostering sustainable, accessible and quality physical rehabilitation services and promoting inclusion.
Mali, Bamako. Young child following a physical therapist in the Centre Père Bernard Verspieren, Programme de Réadaptation et d'Orientation de Personnes Handicapées d'Encadrement Thérapeutique Elargi (PROPHETE).
1981 was declared by the United nations "international Year for Disabled Persons".
The same year, when it met in Manila, the 24th international Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent adopted a resolution recommending that "a special fund be formed for the benefit of the disabled and to promote the implementation of durable projects to aid disabled persons".
In 1983, the ICRC donated an initial one million Swiss francs to set up the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD).
In January 2001, the ICRC Assembly converted the SFD into an official foundation under Swiss law. It also opened its Board to members of other organizations.
With the ultimate goal of achieving socio-economic integration, the SFD seeks to:
promote accessibility of persons with physical disabilities to rehabilitation centres
promote quality of patient services
promote long term functioning of physical rehabilitation centres
The SFD’s policy is determined by a Board which can count up to 11 members, at least six of whom are ICRC representatives. Operational decisions are taken by an Executive Committee composed of four members of the Board in close collaboration with the SFD Director who coordinates the activities of the project leaders responsible for the various regional projects.
Chairwoman of the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD), Prof. Claude Le Coultre, visiting Danang Centre in Viet Nam. The Danang centre is one of the 10 rehabilitation centres in Viet Nam supported by the SFD.
The SFD Board exercises the overall surveillance of the SFD and defines its general policy. It meets twice yearly and can count up to 11 members, of whom at least 6 shall be ICRC representatives.
Members of the Board
The Executive Committee, appointed by and from the SFD Board, ensures the implementation of the SFD general policy. It meets monthly with the directorate and administers the SFD.
Members of the Executive Committee
The SFD Director, appointed by the SFD Board, is responsible for the day-to day running of the SFD and implements the decisions of the Executive Committee. He is assisted by a part-time assistant.
The current director is Max Deneu.
Heads of SFD Regional Offices
The SFD Head of Regional Office prepares and supervises the SFD projects in his/her region.
Current heads of SFD Regional Offices: Africa - Jozef Nagels, nationality Belgium; Asia - Joël Nininger, nationality French; Latin America - Peter Poetsma, nationality Dutch.
Relations with the ICRC
The SFD was created in 1983 following a resolution of the Red Cross Movement in 1981. The ICRC's SFD is an integral part of the ICRC strategy in physical rehabilitation. The SFD enables the ICRC to provide follow up physical rehabilitation assistance in former ICRC Operational projects, thus promoting long term services and return on investment.
The ICRC's Special Fund for the Disabled and the ICRC are functionally interdependent. The ICRC provides logistical support to the SFD in carrying out its tasks. The SFD uses a common approach, common guidelines and common standards with the ICRC in providing assistance to rehabilitation centres. The SFD offers technical courses to first time ICRC expatriate ortho-prosthetists and to national personnel of ICRC physical rehabilitation projects. Expatriate specialists are part of the same pool of experts and change from time to time between both programmes, enhancing flexibility in unforeseen events.
The two organizations are legally speaking two independent entities since 2001 and the SFD relies on an independent fundraising structure. The context in which the SFD works and its independent status provide prospects on complementary funding outside the ICRC donor community.
The SFD relies exclusively on voluntary contributions to cover the costs incurred both in the field and at its headquarters.
Its present donor base consists of Governments, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, foundations and private donors. In 2012, the major donors were the Norwegian government, the Norwegian Red Cross , the "Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund" through USAID, the Swiss Red Cross Humanitarian Foundation, the Australian government and the OPEC Fund for International Development.
The ICRC, besides its initial donation of Sfr 1 million in 1983, has regularly contributed to the SFD budgets. It also provides office space and other facilities for the SFD staff working in the field and at its headquarters in Geneva.
A yearly appeal is submitted to the donors who receive a mid-year review and an annual report during the implementation phase. The SFD accounting records and financial statements are examined by an external auditor.For donors, the 2013 SFD Appeal is available on request by