Ethiopia: Supporting social inclusion for persons with disabilities

The ICRC works closely with the Ethiopian Basketball Federation (EBF) to promote the social inclusion of persons with disabilities by involving them in a wheelchair basketball game. As part of this effort, the ICRC donated 60 wheelchairs, along with spare parts, to EBF at a ceremony held in Addis Ababa on March 11, 2017.

"The main objective of the donation is to expand the practice of wheelchair basketball game in different regions in Ethiopia and to help the EBF to establish a national wheelchair basketball association," remarked James Reynolds, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Ethiopia while handing over the consignments.

James Reynolds, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Ethiopia, hands over the donation to Dr. Ashebir Woldegiorgis, President of the Ethiopian Basketball Federation. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC/ Alemayehu Takele

The EBF is currently involved in the important task of setting up the country's first official wheelchair basketball association. This move will allow it to get the necessary support from various quarters and enable persons with disabilities to play the game at a professional level. This will, in turn, empower them to compete at both local and international tournaments, according to Yimer Haile, EBF Office Head. To establish the association, it is a standing procedure that the sport is exercised in at least five regions, among other things.

Speaking on the occasion, Tesfaye Yigezu. State Minister of Youth and Sports, expressed appreciation to the ICRC for its donation which he said "would have a significant contribution for the social inclusion of persons with disabilities". He also called upon NGOs to extend similar support to the government which is "committed to enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in social activities and build their confidence".

"We are very grateful for this valuable donation made by the ICRC, and it will be instrumental in popularizing wheelchair basketball games across many regions in the country, thereby realizing our objective to establish the intended association in 2010 EC (2017/18 GC)," Yimer said.

Forty-eight of the 60 wheelchairs were handed over to representatives of five regions (Ababa, Southern Nations, Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions) on the same day and the remaining 12 basket basketball wheelchairs will remain here (in Addis Ababa) and will be used for coaching/training of arbiters, referees, etc.

In Ethiopia, there are over 100 persons with disabilities who actively participate in wheelchair basketball. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC/ Alemayehu Takele

Wheelchair basketball was started in Ethiopia in 2012 after the ICRC brought coaches from abroad and provided training to persons with disabilities on how to play the game, followed by the donation of 12 wheelchairs. Currently, there are five wheelchair basketball teams representing different regions in the country with 100 persons with disabilities as members.

The ICRC has donated 84 basketball wheelchairs so far to the EBF, including the 60 wheelchairs it gave on March 11, in support of persons with disabilities.