Prosthetics for Refugees

(The StepOut Programme)


The Challenge

The number of amputees in the developing world is truly staggering.

The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 30 million people with amputated limbs in poor countries, and only 5 per cent of them have access to prosthetics. In the Syrian war alone, it is estimated that 80,000 people have lost limbs. Amputees in the developing world often make do with restrictive, uncomfortable and unwieldy prosthetic limbs, or no prosthetics at all.

Our Aim
This project aims to bring life-changing, transformative technology to lower limb amputees in the developing world at low cost. IRT has partnered with Elegant Design and Solutions (EDaS) to produce a high-activity, low-cost prosthetic for people living in developing countries and refugee camps. Known as the DC-3, the main advantages of this product are:

  1. Flexible Ankle. With its flexible ankle, the DC-3 mirrors closely the actions of a real leg, allowing the wearer to traverse hilly and rough terrain more easily, to climb stairs and to participate in everyday life.
  2. Cost. While a Western-manufactured, ‘blade-runner’, carbon-fibre prosthetic might cost in the region of $3,000, the intention is to provide the DC-3 for under $100.
  3. Simple Manufacture. The product can be manufactured in the area of need, using simple tools, templates and equipment. The DC-3 is not reliant on advanced technology, such as 3D printing.

Current State of the Project

The DC-3 has already been trialled with 25 amputees in Tanzania, producing impressive results. It had a 90% approval rating, generally proving lighter, more mobile and faster across difficult terrain than the prosthetics previously worn by the amputees.

The combination of simplicity of design, availability of raw materials, ability to manufacture on site and the planned training package together create truly sustainable change for the world’s poorest amputees, many of whom are refugees.

The DC-3 provides a highly efficient and cost-effective solution to a problem being faced on a daily basis by thousands of amputees in the developing world, many of whom are refugees who have fled wars in their homelands. When properly manufactured artificial limbs are unavailable, amputees will resort to clumsy, home-made substitutes, such as those illustrated below.


For those who cannot obtain a suitable, robust prosthetic limb, which mirrors the actions of a real leg, life’s opportunities begin to close down.


With the DC-3 providing a virtually limp-free gait, a whole new world of possibilities opens up…