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In Cuba, HI’s programme works with local stakeholders to make society more inclusive for people with disabilities. We are particularly active in the areas of economic inclusion, community resilience and disaster risk reduction, as the country is particularly prone to hurricanes.

A show organised as part of the community-based rehabilitation project

A show organised as part of the community-based rehabilitation project | © M. Burgaya / HI

Actions in process

In order to improve the economic inclusion of people with disabilities, HI helps people with disabilities, especially women and young people, to find suitable employment. To this end, the programme supports personal initiatives though competency building and the distribution of kits containing the tools needed to develop an economic activity. HI is also strengthening existing vocational training pathways, in collaboration with public services and civil society organisations. Our teams train and raise awareness of disability issues among the various economic actors, support the development of new adapted activities and work to improve the working conditions and environment of people with disabilities.

Cuba is very prone to natural disasters, especially during the hurricane season, which runs from June to December each year. To help vulnerable populations prepare, HI’s programme works with local authorities and civil society actors in the province of Pinar del Río on disaster risk reduction and developing resilience strategies. It helps develop local partners' knowledge of risks and their capacities for anticipation and prevention, ensuring that people with disabilities are taken into account in the responses provided. With their experience and expertise, they help make disaster preparedness plans more effective.

HI’s programme is also implementing a project to support the population following Hurricane Ian, which hit the province hard in 2022. In three municipalities, it is supporting community initiatives that will enable residents to regain and sustain their livelihoods. The programme is thus supporting the development of urban community and family gardens to strengthen their food autonomy. In addition, it is helping three schools to prepare for disaster risks and is providing training and awareness-raising for the teaching staff.

Areas of intervention

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Situation of the country

Map of HI's interventions in Cuba

Cuba, the largest country in the Caribbean, is facing the worst economic crisis since the 1990s – a crisis in which the most vulnerable are the hardest hit.

The Republic of Cuba developed as a socialist country in the wake of the 1959 revolution. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the country, whose economy had been strongly dependent on the USSR, entered a long period of economic hardship that gradually led to a diversification of the national economy.

However, although many countries have recently revised their position on Cuba and promoted economic, cultural and political exchanges, the embargo imposed on the country by the United States continues to have a severe impact not only on the island's capacity for growth, but also on the lives of all Cubans. The Cuban economy has been hard hit by the tightening of the US embargo and sanctions since 2018, as well as by the difficulties of its main ally in the region, Venezuela. Despite a limited human toll, the COVID-19 crisis worsened an already difficult situation by depriving the country of one of its main resources, tourism. As a result, Cuban GDP fell by 11% in 2020, before recovering to 0.4% in 2021 and 1.8% in 2022.

In recent years, this complex economic scenario has resulted in galloping inflation and limited access for the population to basic necessities such as food, health and hygiene products. The country's fuel supply has also been considerably weakened, leading to periodic energy and transport crises. This situation has prompted many Cubans to emigrate  to the United States or European countries.

Number of HI staff: 1

Programmed opened in: 1998

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