What James Macharia and the building industry need to know about housing for all Author Mugambi Paul

What James Macharia
and the building industry need to know about housing for all

When CS of transport and infrastructure James Macharia grabbed headlines, last week claiming to implement the 1.5 % housing levy. Several questions came to my mind as a public policy expert on diversity and inclusion.
Will the housing plans be accessible, how many persons with disabilities will benefit from the scheme? No regulations regarding accessible housing have been put across.

, it showed a clear lack of awareness about the situation facing people who need accessible housing.
A quick and random call among persons with disabilities soon clarified that accessible housing is a rare commodity in Kenya.
Housing finance and real estates in Kenya have not taken any concrete measure to ensure even at list wheelchair accessible houses.
A negligible
Number of persons with disabilities have modified and customise an existing home if they need accessibility features.
Homes in the area are often high-set, or have stairs to the entries, or might have a feature like a sunken lounge.
I opine that It’s all about the space inside, and whether it is possible to navigate it easily.
When policy implementors put in mind the accessible needs, they aren’t doing for persons with disabilities but it’s for all. this is because the accessibility features will help in future. policy implementors need to plan for mobility-friendly home for
present and future occurrences. Some suggestions include:

As well as a level path to the entry, step-free entry and wide doorway, they look for features like a place under cover outside or inside near the front door to park and charge an electric mobility scooter. This is also not always easy to find in homes on the market.
Sadly, the situation in Dickson is not abnormal
But Nairobi is not unusual in having a dearth of dwellings suitable for those with accessibility requirements such as disability, age-related health issues, being on crutches following injury or grappling with infernal contraptions for conveying small children in and out of their property.
Nairobi is typical – and that is a major problem.
There are some moves afoot to change the way new homes are built – and more on that shortly – because the bottom line is that more inclusive and user-friendly housing that incorporates basic universal design would ensure homes work for just about anyone.
For people with disability, the lack of dwellings that meet basic Livable Housing Design Guidelines can compromise full participation in both economic and social life.
Importantly, the Kenyan disability sector has been silent on this critical concern. Notability, housing it’s one of the big 4 agenda by the president.
This shows how the disability stakeholders have not engaged sufficiency with the government and the building stakeholders.
There is lack of existing data on accessible housing and also ownership of homes by persons with disabilities.
Moreover, there are no guidelines or regulations on accessible housing nor available information on the current Kenya disability strategy.
The challenge is to policy makers to rise to the occasion and guarantee basic and accessible housing for all.
Additionally, there are specific difficulties and barriers created by the lack of affordable and appropriate housing near employment.
A lack of affordable, accessible housing directly affects employment opportunities including where a person can work, hours that they can work, access to training and promotion as well as all the social activities that come with being part of a workplace.
According to the United Nations, over three quarters of Africa’s population is under 35. Kenyan youth is over 20 per cent of the population — higher than
the world (15.8 per cent) and Africa (19.2 per cent) averages.

Kenya has the highest youth unemployment rate in East Africa. Youth inclusion into construction is imperative not only to employment security, but also to curb
the increasing social spiral into crime that unproductive and disenfranchised youth are vulnerable to.
It is prudent for policy makers and stakeholders realize that People with disability, like everyone else, need to have easy access and proximity to their places of employment.
“This includes ensuring there are strong and well-planned links between accessible housing, accessible public transport and an accessible built environment such as footpaths, premises and availability of accessible facilities such as toilets.
This is a challenge to the legislatures in both national and county governments to take the bull by its horn and ensure accessible housing policies are being developed and executed.
There are even barriers to engaging with the property market.
“Where employed or not, whether housing is being sought for purchase or in the private rental market, people with disability face numerous barriers to have our housing needs met.
“It is extremely difficult to find rental properties that are both accessible and affordable.” A blind client
Informed us. The county governments need to zero rate taxes for persons with disabilities in order to uptake ownership of property and building houses.

This is because It is also difficult to access funding and/or approval to make the necessary modifications to rental properties.
“The appalling experience by the Blind client is sadly a common experience for many people with disability.
“Many of us face difficulties in finding accessible housing in close proximity to our work and we often face highly restricted choices in where we can live. The experience also highlights the poor attitudes and a lack of understanding that still exists within the community as we navigate and negotiate our way around a largely inaccessible environment.”
How far off is industry on delivering accessible housing for all?
This is still a pipedream to attain the 500.000 houses by 2022.
I believe if the government and policy makers can have a consensus from government, property developers, and advocates for older people and people with disability for basic access features to be rolled out in all new homes by 2025.
We are likely we will get there.
The basic design features for minimum universal design features such as a level point of entry to the dwelling; step-free showers that allow for seated use and toilets in a ground floor bathroom with room to manoeuvre; wider doorways and corridor widths should have a focus of establishing a Kenyan Building Codes Board.
The board should pursue research and endeavour to produce quarterly reports on accessible housing for all.
While wheelchair users as a specific group of people with disability are a small proportion of the population, I affirm that the accessibility features are also important for people to age in place.
Social housing is not the answer for all people with disability, as there are those who have well-paid jobs. Parliamentarians with disabilities, for example, are often in full-time employment and earning incomes that allow them full independence. There are also many livings with other family members in a family home
All in all, the house building industry has not “come to the party” of its own volition on delivering universal design features as a standard product.
Hence the need for changes to the construction code to make it happen.
Real estate is generally resistant
Private Real estate are reluctant to include access features even when asked.
“If you engage an architect for a custom build then yes, you can get level access to the alfresco,” she says.
The reality is accessible housing ready to move into simply isn’t easy to find – and even when a home is accessible, there is no easy way for buyers to identify those properties.
I also take note that Many builders also see providing disability-friendly housing as a Kenyan government responsibility.
There are also an attitude older people should be moving into specifically back to the rural places not expecting the mass market to cater for their changing needs.
However, with the statistics showing that around 35 per cent of households include a person with a disability, this is a mass market need.
“That’s a big chunk of the population.”
The lack of accessible housing also impacts who can visit a dwelling. many people “just put up with it” when they realise a family member or friend cannot visit their home due to an un-navigable entry or internal features.
The lack of interest in delivering accessible housing also means there are few putting thought into design for accessibility.
Good design doesn’t mean there will be “ugly” grab bars everywhere as many people think.
“It doesn’t need to look like a person with a disability lives there.”
The reluctance to make accessible design a basic and universal part of dwellings is not an outrageous demand on the industry.
I observe that We already have so many universal features such as walls, roof and windows.
It is not a stretch from these types of universal features to making accessibility standard so that more homes are useable by more people across their lifespan.
“It’s not rocket science. [These features] are already included in many high-class homes in Kenyan surbabs. technical problems have already been overcome.”
As to the argument the accessibility features will cost more – which was a feature of the builders–Any added cost is due to the need for subtrades to change the standard practices, and in going back and undertaking re-work where they have done things in the usual “cookie cutter” fashion and failed to deliver specified universal design features.
I call it the “hump cost” – the initial adjustment required to get the industry onboard with doing things slightly differently.
Ultimately, accessibility in housing is just about “thoughtful design and useability for the maximum number of people.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to celebrate Uhuru in 2019: Author Mugambi M. Paul.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to CELEBRATE Uhuru in 2019:
Author Mugambi M. Paul.

The third eye on Disability policy implementation in Kenya 2019
In recent past, Kenya has been a global leader in developing and advocating for better disability policy framework. This is well articulated on the contributions made to the African disability policy framework, UNCRPD resolutions etc
Yet much is to be achieved in local policy development and implementation.
background:

In a chronology of events demonstrates that it has not been an easy ride for Kenyans with disabilities.
This is because the enactment of the
persons with disability act 2003 took place after the 3rd president was involved in a grisly road accident and took oath of office on a wheelchair.
Furthermore, the Kenyan disability policy has ever remained in draft formats.

All these indicators show It has been a tumultuous journey to have a repeal of the act or even actually develop a strategy of ensuring the realization of the rights of disabled persons in Kenya.

Actually, more than 20 versions of the amendment bills have been put across for the last 14 years.
This is not to say some sort of change has not taken place though it’s a snail pace.
, some piecemeal amendments have been achieved.
For instance, the sign language recognition.
With this notwithstanding, several questions policy makers have to ask themselves.
Who will actualize the implementation of beautiful disability global policies in Kenya?
When will persons with disabilities in Kenya receive and access services without overburdening them? when will the Wanjiku with disabilities stop facing surmountable of challenges in accessing services?

Short term reforms
Some of the actions taken after advocacy include:
Development of
action plan on accessibility 2015
gazettement of adjustment orders, participation on Kenya report on the implementation of UNCRPD 2015etc.
Additionally, in 2018 the ministry of labour has an interagency implementation of the resolution of the global summit held in London 2018

All these actions by the different policy makers are aimed at creating a more inclusive society that enables Kenyans with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
It is also the main way Kenya implements the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, making sure people with disability can participate in all areas of Kenyan life.
As a public scholar I suggest the interagency organ of the ministry of labour develops a strategy which can address the existing gaps for policy implementation and enactment of 2020 disability act. It will be a great relive for many persons with disabilities.
If the interagency is offered the necessary resources and support, it can have development of a long-term strategic plan which can become a shared commitment by national and county government to work together to improve the lives of Kenyans with disability.
The interagency can guide governments and
other organisations to build the wellbeing of people with disability and their care givers.
Through this process the Ministry of labour and parliamentary committee can ensure the budgeting processes are disability inclusive.

There has been a lot of change to disability policy and service delivery since the enactment of 2003 act.
Some findings from disability researchers, bloggers and experience faced by persons with disabilities have established that the current act has lots of gravy areas.
This is because of systemic failures, lack of execution and resource allocation.
It’s prudent that ministry of labour and the stakeholders bite the bull by its horn by coming up with a long term 10-year disability strategy for Kenya which can be reviewed after five years.

Consequently, we need to make sure a new strategy reflects the changing policy environment and builds on opportunities available today as well as what may emerge over
the next decade, this includes considering the findings from KNCr reports the recent UNCRpd reports,
.
Public participation

constitutionally speaking the parliamentary committee, the ministry of labour should adopt public participation models which will enable persons with disabilities to contribute to the new strategies as a way forward.

This will ensure Consultation people with disability are at the centre of the design of the new strategy and have a leading role in modernising policies and
programs affecting their lives.
The needs to be a clear timeline of the consultation.
The policy makers need to adopt range of options available to ensure that persons with disabilities to have a say.
Importantly, all consultation should be accessible to people will disability.
This can be through the following:

list of 3 items
• an open public survey
Since some part of the population are able to access internet and more so the social media.

• face-to-face community workshops in every county
Media awareness.
• and online forum
The ministry of labour and the stakeholders should ensure that at all times.
The Consultations should be accessible.
This is by ensuring when registering persons with disabilities
provide details of any adjustments or special requirements they might need
key responsibilities:

Obviously, nominated parliamentarians with disabilities need to rise to the occasion and speak with one voice.
Its high time they realized disability is a cross cutting issue and doesn’t know the party lines.
They need to be accountable to persons with disabilities. At all cost.
The parliamentarians with disabilities need to think outside the box and develop bills targeting different aspects on disability not just targeting the reappeal of the 2003 persons with disabilities. For example, enactment of a carers act, braille and access to adaptive technology act, mental health act etc
We have evidently not seen the top law makers with disabilities drumming support for Legislation and policies underpinned by data disaggregated by disability which can make a difference by promoting meaningful
leadership, and consistently challenging harmful attitudes and practices.
.
For instance, the much hyped Huduma number and the upcoming census.
As policy expert I also orate that the disability persons organization are not playing their rightful role efficiently.
This is to say that an alternative view for better advocacy needs to be realized.
This is through continues research, surveys and serious consultations among membership.
Its true that most disability persons organizations have restricted themselves to Urban townships when consulting with out reaching out to the rural remote areas where even basic service to a Kenyan with disability are situated.
e
Conclusion

I believe that its high time the disability persons organization developed a serious advocacy framework with all organizations that care about the human rights and wellbeing of people with disability.
The human rights bodies and agencies need to be speaking up about the broader systemic issues that
need to be confronted, to ensure that people with a disability can have a good life.
going forward, it is not just the responsibility of the disability sector to make sure people with disability were included in the
community.
as Richardson a disability advocate says,
“This is about whole of community, and whole of government working through how best to include and embrace people with disability in all aspects of life,”

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization. Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Kenyan budgeting is a failure without urgent intervention on Disability agenda. Author: Mugambi M. Paul.

Kenyan budgeting is a failure without urgent intervention on Disability agenda.
Author: Mugambi M. Paul.

To begin, as a follow up of lasts years global summit held in London.
The ministry of labor and stakeholders have started the process of ensuring the global summit commitments are implemented.
This is evidently seen by the upcoming report by development pathways and agency in UK on matters social protection.
However, taking a snapshot of the Kenyan budgeting processes and procedures this dream might not be realized.
This is because Its just 2 months towards the presentation of budget by the treasury.
Persons with disabilities have not gotten the opportunity to participate and be engaged in the budgeting processes.
As a public scholar I affirm that Kenya government will remain to fail the disability community by not fixing this abnormally.
The Kenyan government can ensure proper disability budgeting procedures are implemented in all its plans, policies and regulations.
The Kenyan government should at list plan for one % of its budget on disability matters.
This will ensure the social protection systems become disability-inclusive.
Through the ministry of labor, they can present a memorandum of understanding to the ministry of treasury and the parliamentary budgeting committee.
This should be executed by both national and county governments.
On the other hand, persons with disabilities need to claim their public spaces.
This will enable enhancement of participation and increase of there voices being hard by policy makers.
This can take place in the local chapters of budgeting review processes.
It’s a proven fact that the bottom to top approach has necessitated lots of changes in the public sector agenda making processes.
For this to be well articulated the disability persons organizations need to up their game.
This is by mobilizing resources towards a budget campaign
Through media and engaging the parliamentary committees.
campaign in the lead-up to the reading Budget to call on the government and opposition to deliver on their bipartisan promise to actualize the disability mainstreaming agenda a reality.
All in all, when disability budgeting is implemented it will ensure Kenya moves out of the current charity model of delivery of services thus realizing the social reformative agenda.
This is well articulated in the 2010 constitution and the UNCRPD
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

My Meeting With Senator Jordon Steele-John Of West Australia

I met Senator Jordon Steele-John who is a Senator of West Australia
and is a member of the Australian Greens parliamentary team.

He is A passionate youth and disability advocate, he has always
wanted to make a positive difference.His first political memory was
of the Tampa Crisis in 2001.
Six at the time, I might have been too young to understand the
complexities of that sorry saga, but I did understand that desperate
people were asking
for our help and we were saying no. It was my first encounter with the
power of politics and it had a profound impact on me. Over the next
ten years I
considered all the dream jobs usual to kids that age (palaeontology
was the frontrunner for quite a while!) but I could never shake that
desire to make
a difference and, after living through the Howard era, the Iraq War
and the Pacific Solution, the impact political decisions have on
people’s lives was
clearer to me than ever. So I decided to get informed and get involved.

Coming from a family of strong Labor supporters he had always
believed that, as a young person, a person who journeys with a
disability and a person who
cares deeply about social and environmental justice, Labor was the
party for me. So it was with sadness and disappointment that I watched
as, from genuine
action on climate change to ensuring that big miners pay their fair
share of tax, they failed to stand up for what matters. The final
straw came with the
Gillard Government announcement of Malaysian Solution. I knew then
that both parties had signed up to the type of cynical and
dehumanising politics which
always ultimately leads to cruelty, and I knew that I could not be
part of it. Searching for a voice which spoke to me with authenticity
and about the
issues I cared about with courage, I found The Greens and never looked back.

Over the course of my life I’ve learned that to be a young person with
a disability in contemporary Australia is to occupy the intersection
of some of
our society’s most ingrained myths and most damaging preconceived
ideas. Far too often it seems as though these are the prisms through
which our lives
are viewed and our rights are framed. It can feel almost impossible to
make your voice heard when the debate so easily casts aside everything
from affordable
education, housing and transport to the very state of the environment
we will inherit. At every opportunity I’ve worked hard to bust these
myths, challenge
these preconceived ideas and be a strong voice for the issues that
matter, working for the past several years as a youth and disability
advocate at the
local, state, federal and NGO level with a focus on rights and
awareness training.
From genuine action on climate change to affordable housing, quality
education, a properly funded NDIS and an effective transition to the
new economy,
The Greens embody the desire to make a positive difference that I’ve
felt for as long as I can remember. We have the courage to
authentically engage with
young people and our issues, laying out a policy vision which truly
meets the challenges and opportunities that face our generation.

Jordon Steele-John inspired me and he is an Icon of our time.
He also listened to my experience coming from a developing nation
where access to services is a dream to many persons with
disabilities.
We also shared how Australia can be of help to uplift advocacy efforts
on the low income countries by improving policy directions.

Appeal for Employment for PWDs at all County Levels

Leaders of devolved units and county assemblies should embrace disability inclusion by becoming role models in labour practices by ensuring that persons with different disabilities get share of the county cake distribution at all key positions in both the county assembly and executive levels.

I do heare by affirm that, as major employers and service providers, county governments have a constitutional mandate of article 54, UNCRPD article 27 moral authority and also significant impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

This is by using fair employment practices and ensuring non-discriminatory service provision to locals and ensuring access to services. County governance is going to be the major driver of Kenya’s political and economic development, considering that crucial sectors of the economy and social/public services are under their jurisdiction.

I affirm the public service commission observations made in its study report of 2014 that persons with disabilities were left out by the national and county governments. With this not withstanding, all this levels of government never met the minimum constitutional threshold of 5 % opportunities but a mere below 1 % was what has been achieved.

since the introduction of devolution in 2013 greater participation, accountability and transparency in local governance and economic

development has been observed though allot needs to be done especially in provision of opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Devolution has provided a platform and an empowering voice to the historically marginalised population in the country.

The Kenyan Constitution envisions, among others, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalised as part of our national values and principles of governance.

International labor organization indicate in its different publications that political participation, especially by persons with disabilities, may lead to qualitative and substantive changes in governance, change of attitudes contributing to creation
of an environment that is more sensitive and responsive to people’s needs. For instance workers with disabilities are prone to work extra hard and ensure they meet targets.

Recently, the United disabled persons of Kenya the umbrella advocacy body for persons with disabilities, said the country has a long way to go to achieve disability mainstreaming in political representation following
the outcome of the August 8 2017 elections. Only 7 persons with disabilities were elected. two have been elected MP, two MCAs and one woman representative.
Earlier in the year, the National Gender and Equality Commission released a report on the status of equality and inclusion. It stated that persons with
disability have been discriminated against in the electoral processes, with their political representation being minimal or totally absent because of cultural
and structural barriers. The report noted that in 2013, across all legislative bodies, only a single woman with disability was elected to the national assembly. A man with disability
was elected to the Senate, five to the National Assembly, and 10 to the county assemblies.

Nominations remedied the situation: The senate ended up with three out of 67 members (4.5 per cent); National Assembly had nine out of 349 members (2.6
per cent), while county assemblies had 71 out 2,222 members (3.2 per cent).

Its still not yet Uhuru for persons with disabilities since the gains made in 2013 especially at the nomination at the county levels seems to be drained by the powers that be.

In the nomination 2017 it was a madden issue where 17 counties din’t nominate any person with a disability. The remaining 30 counties either also never followed the right procedure or they even some counties had fake persons with disabilities.
We should continuously question why society keeps acting as a barrier to the effective participation of persons with disability in all spheres of life. All of us have to consciously and directly challenge the stereotypes we hold towards persons with disability.

The government and its organs need to put its foot forward towards realizing disability mainstreaming and ensuring the meeting of the sustainable development goals by not living persons with disabilities behind.

Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power~ Darren Walker

I was a sophomore in college when I first encountered the writing of James Baldwin. His courageous spirit, his clarion voice, and his moral imagination
expanded my consciousness of what it meant to be black in America. It helped me make sense of my own experience growing up in the rural South during the
1960s.

This past year, as I have traveled across the country and around the world, Baldwin’s clear-eyed understanding of our human frailties—as well as our potential
for transformation—has traveled with me. It has given me
#reasonsforhope.

Certainly, the events of this year have tested any commitment to hope, and to the belief that equality can triumph over indifference and injustice. We
are witnessing alarming levels of racism and bigotry in the West. We feel anguished and powerless over the plight of refugees from war-torn regions in
the Middle East and Africa. The world over, continued violence against women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ communities, and other vulnerable people
reminds us that inequality can exact deadly consequences.

In the United States, we find ourselves grieving far too often. We despair over the innocent African Americans killed by police and over the killings of
innocent officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. As we try to measure the incalculable costs of this violence—and the trauma it expands and extends—we are
called to work with greater urgency to connect the reality we see with the solutions we seek.

As we continue to confront, and be confronted by, entrenched inequality of all kinds—as we search for ways to understand and address it—I have returned
repeatedly to one of Baldwin’s insights in particular: “Ignorance, allied with power,” he wrote in 1972, “is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

These words resonate powerfully today. That is in large part because they compel us to confront our responsibility. They demand that we look closely at
our own ignorance and our own power. And as I discovered for myself, these two acts are not easy for any of us.

Confronting power, privilege, and ignorance
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.

When Baldwin crafted his critique, power was held almost exclusively by wealthy white men and their institutions, including some of the very institutions
whose exercise of power we still scrutinize.

Since his writing, however, our definition of the power that allies with ignorance has expanded to include privilege: the unearned advantages or preferential
treatment from which we all benefit in different ways—whether due to our place of origin, our citizenship status, our parents, our education, our ability,
our gender identity, our place in a hierarchy.

The paradox of privilege is that it shields us from fully experiencing or acknowledging inequality, even while giving us more power to do something about
it. So, privilege allied with ignorance has become an equally pernicious, and perhaps more pervasive, enemy to justice. And just as each of us holds some
form of power or privilege we can challenge in ourselves, we each hold some form of ignorance, too.

Typically, in conversations about race, the word ignorance is associated with outright bigotry—and no doubt the two can be related. Yet in my experience,
ignorance remains such a ferocious enemy because of its silent, constant, unacknowledged presence.

I am a black, gay man, so some might assume that I’m especially sensitive to these issues and dynamics. But during the past year I have had to confront
my own ignorance and power, and come to terms with the ways I was inadvertently fueling injustice.

Last June, my colleagues and I
announced
that FordForward would focus on disrupting inequality. During the weeks that followed, I received more than 1,500 emails in response, mostly congratulatory.
And then something happened: I was confronted with feedback that highlighted my own obliviousness.

My friend Micki Edelsohn, founder of a remarkable organization called Homes for Life in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first to note that FordForward made
no mention of a huge community: the more than one billion people around the world who live with one form of disability or another, some 80 percent of them
in developing countries. “I applaud you for taking on inequality,” she said. “But when you talk about inequality, how can you not acknowledge people with
disabilities?”

Many others reiterated her unsettling message, from former governor Tom Ridge and Carol Glazer, chairman and president, respectively, of the National Organization
on Disability, to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility. As a matter of fact, it was Jennifer—now among our most constructive, valued
partners—who, in a rather scorching email, called me a hypocrite. I deserved it.

Indeed, those who courageously—and correctly—raised this complicated set of issues pointed out that the Ford Foundation does not have a person with visible
disabilities on our leadership team; takes no affirmative effort to hire people with disabilities; does not consider them in our strategy; and does not
even provide those with physical disabilities with adequate access to our website, events, social media, or building. Our 50-year-old headquarters is currently
not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—landmark legislation that celebrated its 26th anniversary this summer. It should go without
saying: All of this is at odds with our mission.

Disability, inequality, and missed opportunities
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

The fact is, people with disabilities—whether visible or invisible—face harsh inequalities. People with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental health
disabilities do not benefit from the same opportunities as those without. This inequality is pervasive, and it regularly intersects with other forms of
inequality we already address in our work.

For instance, RespectAbility found that
more than 750,000 people in our jails and prisons have a disability.
How many times have I thought, talked, or written about the imperative of criminal justice reform in the past year, I wonder, without thinking about this
aspect of the crisis at all?

And so, for me and for the foundation, my first question was: How had this happened—how could we possibly miss this? The answer, simply put, is power,
privilege, and ignorance—each of which multiplies the prejudicial effects of the other.

I am personally privileged in countless ways—not least of which is that I am able bodied, without immediate family members who have a disability. In my
own life, I have not been forced to consider whether or not there were ramps before entering a building, or whether a website could be used by people who
were hearing or visually impaired.

In the same way that I have asked my white friends to step outside their own privileged experience to consider the inequalities endured by people of color,
I was being held accountable to do the same thing for a group of people I had not fully considered. Moreover, by recognizing my individual privilege and
ignorance, I began to more clearly perceive the Ford Foundation’s institutional privilege and ignorance as well.

Some of my colleagues have raised the issue of disability rights in informal, individual conversations. Others have personal experience with disability,
or have cared for friends and family who do. Yet over the 18months that we meticulously crafted FordForward—an extensive, exhaustive process—we did not
meaningfully consider people with disabilities in our broader conversations about inequality.

Thinking back, I had believed that our institution—all our people, all our processes—would serve as a check and balance against individual biases. I assumed,
without really stopping to acknowledge my assumption, that issues I might overlook, or be ignorant of, would be raised by someone else—and that the space
was there to raise them. It is clear to me now that this was a manifestation of the very inequality we were seeking to dismantle, and I am deeply embarrassed
by it.

Yet the experience has kindled a learning moment for me—and for all of us at Ford—precisely because it affirms something important about how most institutions
work, or fail to, and how we can make them work better for more people.

This is not to say this system of checks and balances does not already exist. The diversity of perspectives within our organization and our board is perhaps
one of our greatest strengths. Still, as some have pointed out, this diversity does have gaps. As an organization composed of individuals with different
inherent biases, we are not immune to ignorance. While checking each other’s ignorance in one area, we may simultaneously—and unconsciously—reinforce and
even ratify it in another. In this way, an absent voice or constituency may not merely be unconsidered; it may as well not exist.

This kind of institutional ignorance is wide ranging. We see it when companies and organizations offer unpaid internships, and in the lack of diversity
on the
boards of cultural institutions.
We see it in the false choices between pro-victim and pro-law enforcement policy imperatives, and in responses to institutionalized racism more broadly.
I think it’s fair to say that this same narrow-mindedness
undercuts all of us in philanthropy
—and given our charge, it is unconscionable. Despite our best intentions, when we fail to address ignorance within our organizations, we are complicit
in allowing inequality to persist.

The good news is: We can change. And we are changing. Among all the many challenges facing our world and our work, the solution to this one is entirely
within our control. In order to make our organizations more effective, we must consciously, deliberately lead them to become less ignorant.

From ignorance to enlightenment

So how do we do this? How do we move from unwitting ignorance to enlightened action?

For my colleagues and me, the transformation starts with acknowledging our own fallibility and deficiencies. We are becoming more comfortable with uncomfortable
feedback. Rather than adopting a defensive posture by default, we are opening ourselves to dialogue and learning. As we know, change takes time, and we
may not succeed fully right away. But we are committed to doing better, and we hope that continual feedback will keep us honest.

In this particular case, we have sought out the counsel of numerous people with disabilities, as well as disability rights advocates—including visionary
leaders like Judy Heumann and former senator Tom Harkin, and our colleagues at the Open Society Foundations and Wellspring Advisors, who were pioneering
funders in this area more than a decade ago. These conversations have offered us tremendous insight into how we can—and will—include people with all types
of disabilities in our work.

To be clear, we will not initiate a new program on disabilities. Rather, we will integrate an inclusive perspective across all of our grantmaking. As I’ve
come to learn, the mantra of the disability community is “Nothing about us, without us”—words that ring true across our work. After all, we make better
decisions when we hear and heed the important contributions of all humankind. And I am confident that by adding and applying this additional lens across
our efforts—by asking the extra question, Are we mindful of the needs of people with disabilities?—we will see new opportunities we otherwise might have
missed.

We also are taking immediate, practical action. For starters, we revisited our plans for the renovation of our headquarters to ensure that we go beyond
the requirements of the ADA, so people with and without disabilities have the same quality of experience in the Ford Foundation building. We are also addressing
our hiring practices. And soon we will ask all potential vendors and grantees to disclose their commitments to people with disabilities in the context
of their efforts on diversity and inclusion.

This is an example of how the Ford Foundation is striving to redress an issue we didn’t get right. But more than that, it is a call to reflect on our
personal and collective ignorance—and to work more conscientiously to combat that ignorance, no matter what shape it takes.

For some, this might mean reconsidering the makeup of a board or leadership team—or reexamining recruiting and hiring practices that may unintentionally
exclude certain people. For others, it might mean reassessing a program based on the context that surrounds it, or reflecting on the language we use when
we talk about the people we work with. Or it might mean asking for uncomfortable comments and criticism, and seizing them as an opportunity for growth.

Demanding more of ourselves, delivering more for others

We simply cannot and will not defeat the enemies of justice—or dispel ignorance—without taking time to reflect on our own lives, and without asking difficult
questions: Who am I forgetting? Which of my assumptions are flawed? Which of my beliefs are misbegotten?

To do this, we need to put aside our pride. We need to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts in order to embrace a complete and intersectional view of
inequality. Only when we permit ourselves to be equal parts vigilant and vulnerable, can we model the kind of honest self-reflection we hope to see across
our society.

If “ignorance allied with power” is, in fact, the greatest enemy of justice—and the greatest fuel for inequality—then empathy and humility must be among
justice’s greatest allies. This will be the work of our year ahead and beyond. It is the work of engaging directly with the root causes and circumstances
of injustice that make philanthropy both possible and necessary.

For my part, I am hopeful. By demanding and expecting more of ourselves and our institutions, we can deliver more for others. By listening more to each
other, we can continue to forge a more just way forward, together.
Foundation.

writer is
#Darren Walker,
President

How Dennis Itumbi Digital director statehouse wants you and me to celebrate his birthday

Aside

Pastor’s Moment
:
#Dennis Itumbi
Today I write to invite you to share my birthday with me on 19th March, at The Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi.

My invite, which I post today will be a long essay. Kindly read along.

Sometimes what we preach is best practiced.

The sermon on that day, is what Paul wrote to the Galatians 2:10 “….Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

On that day, we will do something different.

We will cook Chapatti’s (Chapos) for street children.

I am asking you to come with a rolling pin, a packet of Unga if you can, but most importantly, energy and passion and let us cook together.

#ChapatiForum
led by
Roman Kariuki
and
Anna Anne
will be in the house coordinating the cooking and the mentoring. Ann has been working with street kids for the last few months and will bring on board
a lot of insights

If you have old clothes, blankets, shoes, please come with them and let us interact and add a little warmth and smile to someone we do not know.

Now I know all those questions, why food for one day? why street children is that not encouraging them to flood the city instead of clearing them?

I considered those questions at length before deciding to share my birthday and to mobilise my friends and all of you to be part of the initiative, offering
your friendship to that group of people is to offer my best resource to strangers, I therefore got have answers for those deep questions.

I value your time and friendship, I will never mobilise you to service for the sake of it – let me therefore explain.

Out of all possible groups like children homes, the aged and all, I consider Street Children and the homeless as the best challenge, without good challenge
we rarely stretch ourselves to the limit.

I have never heard a comprehensive solution for this group of people. However, one of the first steps we can take is be friends to them as a people and
share the values of humanity with them.

My experience on this matter changed one day, when a young girl walked to me, not nagging me for some cash, instead she told me, ” brathee usinifukuze,
tomb tu ni kama naomxa peas nitakuambia halo mbelee….” (My brother do not chase me away, just keep walking as if am pestering you for cash)

Skipping the details, she explained that she needed to get away from the eyes of the mother who was hiding somewhere watching her and that all she wanted
was to go to school and get her family out of the streets.

I did not buy her story. but I handed her cash some for the mother and some for her and the younger bro.

Before walking away, I asked her if she knew any school in Nairobi. She mentioned xxxx Primary School. “Sisi hulala kwa kachorochoro hapo karibu..” (we
sleep in a pathway next to the school)

I told her we meet there the next day if she was serious. I did not give a time. To be sincere I did not even turn up the next day.

Many weeks later, the same girl approached me near I&M building and before i could employ a popular strategy blaming her for not turning up, she told me,
“usijali, naelewa umekuwa kazi, tuma mtu ama upige simu shule..”(Do not worry, I know you have been working, please send someone or call the school)

She had turned up for our school date, she sat at the stage the entire day and waited unsuccessfully for me, admiring different children as they carried
their school bags to school.

But the mistrust accumulated fairly over the years, filled my view with smoke, i could not see the sincerity in her eyes and the passion in her heart only
stopped by lack of resources and an upbringing that had taught her she could only make it in life by begging for favours.

At her age she had decided she was not going to live a life of begging by choice, she was going to try and rewrite her narrative and curve a new path for
her destiny.

“Mimi ndio najua hii maisha, mimi ndio nitamaliza mambo ya chokora nikisoma,” (I understand street life, I will deal with it and finish it if I go through
school)

Anyway, she was admitted to school and since we have free primary education the cost was minimal, 40 bob a day for Lunch in school. and other administrative
costs came to less than 15,000 for the whole year plus uniform costs.

But after school it meant she was going to sleep along family on a pathway. Thats not all the mother supplements family income by engaging in prostitution
with drunkards – i will not go to the details of that for now.

A teacher offers to get a house for the family near the school to avoid transport costs, we pay 6 months rent, but there is a problem they have a brother
who also needs to go to school, that too is sorted.

But a bigger problem is yet to be resolved, the mother now has a location for her prostitution and the children we come to learn from the young girl is
firmly exposed.

I will tell the rest of the story someday, including the other initiatives that have to be employed to have this children both who are doing well remain
in schools and the problems associated with it.

The bottom line is, we can change the story of street children by letting them access the tools and means that can empower them to participate i the solution
about them.

Most importantly we do not have to wait to strategic plans to come to life, someday they will, but we can change their lives, one street child at a time,
by just sharing love and listening to them

It is on that ground that I am providing a platform for you to spend a day with them, for you to cook Chapos for them (as we see if you really can cook
what you claim unakalia ama umekaliwa) and I must say there is no better place for me to mark my birthday than with those great kids and their families
too.

It is scripture that records that, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’

“… For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I
needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ …

If you can do any of those please do.

I dedicate my 2016 birthday to Street children and the homeless

God Bless You and Keep You
#be counted
#if I will be present why not you