Will it be the “White smoke” from the 10 billion Cash transfer to the disabled Kenyans? Author Mugambi Paul and DR Siyat.

Over the last 3 weeks the Kenyan government has been excoriated on the measure it would avail to the poor due to the hard-economic times and the coming in of Covid-2019 pandemic. Talking of poverty,

several studies show disabled Kenyans are the largest minority who face this tragedy.

Kenyans with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the current situation, as we are by all-natural disasters and major crises. It is vital that our

voices are part of developing solutions, innovating, problem solving.

as 2 experts we are deeply concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled Kenyans, chronic ill persons and the elderly. Bearing in mind that Kenyans with disabilities are among the Kenya’s most marginalized and stigmatized even under normal circumstances.

This requires us all to act, interact and communicate in different ways than we are used to. However, the social inequalities

degeneration COVID19’s impact on Kenyans with disabilities are not new. The risk in the response to the current crisis is that disabled Kenyans

will be left behind once again. The good news is that we already know what works. Fundamentally, we need social justice, equality of opportunities and

decent work.

According the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities “The pandemic is an unprecedented public health,

social and economic emergency that requires swift and effective action by Kenyan public and private sectors, and the society at large.

We know that COVID-19 is more serious for those with underlying health conditions and particularly those who are immunocompromised. What does this outbreak mean for the Kenyan Disability community?

Both national and county Governments should ensure they take

all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of disabled persons, aged and persons with chronic illnesses] Ilo 2020 WHO 2020 UN 2020 HI 2020 [.

 Legal framework:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that people with disability have the right to health without discrimination

on the basis of disability, including access to population-based public health programmes (Article 25) and that governments also have a duty to take all

necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk (Article 11).

 

Facts to consider:

Providentially, even in non-pandemic circumstances, people with disability are more likely than the general population to have health issues, compromised immunity, increased

risk of morbidity, comorbidities and are more likely to die from preventable causes] Whiteford 2011 DFID 2013, HI 2015un 2012].

According to several studies Some disabled Kenyans will be unable to maintain social distancing

practices because they rely on support workers for vital daily personal care, such as eating, drinking, walking, mobility toileting and dressing.

in addition, disabled Kenyans often rely on family, friends and care givers to provide essential services. During the Corona pandemic, these people may not be able

to provide their usual support.   

Also, in different Kenyan social media platforms disabled Kenyans like many in the broader community, are expressing anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, this nervousness is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored by Kenyan government, private sector and community Corona responses.

Background of social assistance programmes:

Current social assistance programmes include the Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme; the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Cash Transfer Programme; the Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer Programme; the Hunger Safety Net Programme; and the Urban Food Subsidy Programme. The effective implementation of these programmes is constrained by challenges such as how to refine inclusion and exclusion criteria and how to determine appropriate transfer amounts.

 

Corona Rescue plan:

We acknowledge the efforts made by Kenyan government by the issuance of the additional 10 billion Kenyan shillings to the ministry of social protection for the vulnerable population in form of cash transfer.

Definitely in the coming days disabled Kenyans expect a white smoke at the NSSF building which houses the ministry of social protection in Kenya.

Most disabled Kenyans are highly expectant of the policy regulations and guidelines on the 10 billion promise by the executive order by the president of Kenya.

Unequivocally, with proper feedback mechanisms and regular consultation disabled Kenyans will be able to know if cash transfer policy programmed will meet their policy needs.

In other words, disabled Kenyans will comprehend how  the 10 billion cash transfer injection to the inua jamii will target the current registered severe disabled persons, elderly, orphans and vulnerable children or it will be meant  for targeting additional new  vulnerable individuals due to the effects of  of Corona 2019. Arguably, much of the debate about cash transfer among disabled Kenyans programmes revolves around the issues of targeting. This is because with the current strategy only severe disabled persons are targeted and considered.

https://labour.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MLSP-Strategic-Plan-2018-2022_17.09.2019.pdf

 

 

This will be a great test as different stakeholders and policy makers in the social protection department scratch their heads on the right footing on which to take in the implementation policy framework.

Will the policy makers ensure inclusion of other disabled Kenyans since they are also mostly vulnerable?

We believe the cash transfer will avert the short-term impact of the Corona crisis and attenuate its long-term negative effects on human development outcomes.

Nonetheless, it is one thing to say that Kenya with Inua jamii -like programmes are sheltering the more vulnerable from the worst consequences of the Corona crisis, and another to recommend that Inua jamii programmes be designed and implemented during a crisis Lehmann, C. (2012. Several steps are involved, political will is required, and funds must be committed. The ministry of social protection has a pivotal role to ensure coordination, operation and more resources even from development partners.

We observe, the Cash transfer programme will be effective if it will be implemented under a sustainable social protection strategy. Such a strategy should enable better coordination among programmes, between the national and county government ,and among the different international players in order to avoid duplication of effort and waste of resources.

For instance, Mombasa have already started a SMS service asking those who aren’t in the Cash transfer to register “widows, orphans, persons with disabilities, and persons with pre-existing conditions into the emergency plan

Has Mombasa county link up with the national cash transfer programme?

Data base and registration for the cash transfer:

Due to social distance directive as a preventive measure of spread of Corona. Will the ministry of social protection work on vigorous registration, collection of data and automation of all new persons with disabilities, orphans and the elderly?

Or will the ministry of social protection synchronize the current departments databases of children services, NCPWD and   department of social development under the strategic guidance of the National Social Protection Secretariat programme?

This will enable to identify the unmet needs through geographic, demographic and welfare status.

Furthermore, quite a lot of reports indicate the current enhanced single registry adapted through the social assistance programme has improved efficiency and reduction of bottlenecks experienced when the ministry of social protection had 3 separate registries [development pathways 2020[.

Through this policy integration the ministry has    a clear database and actualize its programmes effectively Bobonis, G. and F. Finan (2019).

Such database can enable the ministry to build an array of indicators on disabled persons, orphans and vulnerable children, elderly socioeconomic conditions. Therefore, this is a powerful tool for mapping the different needs. and they could be used to guide other policies. Like the current need of food, water, soap and hand sanitizers.  Moreover, Registries enhance monitoring of the poorest families’ access to social services and infrastructure in a more calibrated way than household surveys. The latter, though they are nationally representative, are often based on small samples that do not facilitate sound analysis for local-level interventions. This knowledge base allows rapid crisis response when programmes may need to expand in order to cover a larger proportion of those that fall into poverty.

Key considerations for the cash transfer:

We consider that the ministry of social protection will cast tis net wider in order to seek input from people with disability, leading disability experts, organizations of persons with disabilities and advocates

in developing their dedicated cash transfer strategy, and in particular, in its COVID-19 Coordination

secondly, Disabled Kenyans with disability, particularly slum dwellers and rural inhabitants, may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to increased risk of

infection, higher number of co‑morbidities and because of underlying health conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses. Numerically speaking, most disabled persons in Kenya live in slum areas and rural areas without basic amenities. Some live-in solitude while others have been housed.

Most of the disabled population and other low-income earners live hand to mouth. This is to say, COVID-19 will spread rapidly and is especially dangerous to people living in close proximity to others in closed settings [WHO 2020].

Worse still, Thousands of adults and children

with disabilities in Kenya live in segregated and often overcrowded residential settings where they can face neglect, abuse, gender-based violence, and inadequate health care and lack human Rights.

Of particular concern are women and girls with disabilities.

This affirms that disable Kenyans are survivors in this country [KNHR 2015]

 

Thirdly disabled Kenyans continue to face barriers in accessing health care, including prevention, testing, screening and treatment for COVID-19. Fourthly, disabled Kenyans will be   unable to access regular and vital medications and therapeutic services due to low supplies and restrictions in access. Fifthly, disabled Kenyans may not have access to mental health services at a time when the need for accessible and responsive mental health is heightened. Sixthly,

disabled Kenyans will be unable to easily access essential health supplies to keep themselves safe, such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser and sterilising

Equipment.

lastly are worried that discrimination or unconscious bias could impact their access to critical and lifesaving health care during this crisis.

to we hope the measures taken will ensure the needs of all Kenyans with disabilities are included in

the response to the pandemic.

As experts we appreciate and acknowledges the challenges that national and county governments and private sector are facing during this pandemic.

 

We call upon all national and county governments to ensure that, in their responses, they include dedicated disability strategies to protect and support disabled Kenyans.

Long term solutions:

We opine that Kenya is still a developing nation We therefore suggest inclusion of one our BBI recommendations which we presented at the task force in February 7th, 2020 as a long-term solution.

  1. Ministry of social protection to establish a disability employment service department under the national employment authority since the authority is in charge of all Kenyans in need of employment. so that they are able to execute employment needs of persons with disabilities Through this agency real disability mainstreaming will be achieved. If this recommendation will be adapted, we believe rapid change will take place. We opine disabled persons won’t need to be in cash transfer for long since cash transfers are not meant for long term programming.
  2. We hope the ministry of social protection can take advantage of the Corona crises to execute of reasonable accommodation plans in all its organs and offer vital lessons to both public and private sector.

All in all, our policymakers will have to come up with a homegrown resolution for ensuring disabled Kenyans rights are protected. And this will not be easy.

 

 

 

The views expressed here are for the authors and do not represent any agency or organization.

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.

Dr Siyat is a  independent  consultant and systemic advocacy service provider.

 

Why Social Isolation is a Greek term to the disabled Kenyans: Author Mugambi Paul

Several studies indicate that in an emergency person who are disabled, aged and who have chronic illnesses are mostly left behind and most at risk [Help age 2012, HI 2019, UN 2020, WHO 2020].

This is because persons without disabilities will be fighting and running away for their fate. As evidenced many Kenyans have started to go back to the rural places.

 

As a public policy scholar and with lived experience of being disabled and advocate for inclusive approaches in both humanitarian and development spheres.

I am concerned on the current and feature effects of Corona on lives of disabled Kenyans and chronically ill people who are currently falling into cracks.

In other words, they are

being hit and particularly hard by the virus outbreak and access to support services seem to be becoming scarce and finally

will be cut as the crisis worsens.

Evidently, in Nairobi and other major towns Panic buying of cereals, groceries, toilet papers, hand sanitizers and other protective equipment, which also disabled and chronic ill people need have suddenly doubled the prices and also have started to be scarce.

I  observe,  Kenyans without disabilities  and who can stockpile are the ones who are probably less at risk because they were able to rush out to the shops, whereas a lot of disabled Kenyans like  me,  elderly, e and persons with   chronic illnesses just can’t get these commodities.

This is coupled with high poverty levels among the disabled Kenyans.

On the other hand, the Cabinet secretary of Health gave a directive prioritizing the elderly and persons with disabilities in the queuing system in the supermarket [daily nation Friday March 2020[

This pronouncement shows that disabled persons have started to be brought in in Corona conversations though much needs to be done in order not to live us behind. If this directive will be followed, we are yet to see.

 

Could the Kenyan supermarket borrow a leaf from Tesco in the United Kingdom or supermarkets in Australia?

In both nations they have reasonable accommodation for ensuring disabled persons, elderly and persons with chronic illnesses are able to shop comfortable and provision of delivery for those with large shopping.

The Corona virus has equalized us all and it has led to the realization that what works for all works for disabled too] UN 2006 UNDP 2017 ILO 2019 Whiteford 2019].

 

Dilemma of social distance: you

 

Social distancing is not an option for disabled Kenyans. The Kenyan government and more so the ministry of health and disability stakeholders need to go back to the drawing board in order to address the needs and priorities of disabled Kenyans so that we can have inclusive corona interventions.

Of course, many Kenyans with out disabilities take things for granted. This is because most will never fit in to our shoes till when they join our disability club.

For instance, Kenyans    with a disability, who rely on care givers and support workers for daily living and sighted guide services including washing and dressing.

I am talking about people with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, sometimes people with intellectual disability, psychosocial disability, the elderly, Down syndrome,

that might need assistance with showering, with going to the toilet.

Moreover, social stigma in Kenya is still ripe,

Shoppers who ar blind and vision impaired will not get sighted guided assistance in the shopping spree due to the continued pronouncement by Kenyan government that we should be one metre point five away and avoid handshakes.

in case the president issues an executive order of total or partial lock down, I observe the disabled will be worst hit even withing there local surroundings.

Did you know most of the local shopping areas are highly squeezed and have low ventilation?

How will my fellow wheelchair users avoid assistance not being close while many of the wheelchairs in Kenya are manual?

Furthermore, some disabled creep on the floors!

How will they shopwith out contacts?

Most Kenyan roads are inaccessible how will the Blind and vision impaired avoid falling in to ditches and trenches?

Our independence and self estieem by the use of assistive divides is being questioned!

How can this non handshake apply to mobility impaired persons like Blind, Crutch users, wheelchair users?

Does the Cabinet secretary of Health and policy makers know our devices are metallic?

What if the care giver is infected and need to self-isolate?

This will make Disabled persons become at higher risk,

Additionally, the actual time and effort of finding somebody else, finding the right person that’s going to fit, as well

as then training someone up from scratch again, is a huge effort for people with very high support needs who are going to be in that really high-risk category. The ministry of health needs to train its front-line staff on basic disability inclusion tips

 

Why are the disability sector and stakeholders silent as the lack of disability inclusive Corona continues?

Are they contributing to uninterrupted discrimination and injustice to the larger wanjikus with disabilities?

I suppose they are hiding and later after the Corona era is over, they will claim we were left behind!

The Kenyan media should rise to the occasion and speak on behalf of the disabled Kenyans and persons with chronic illnesses.

Contribution by disability sector:

The disability sector, human right bodies and other policy stakeholders have the role to monitor and report the government organs on the said implementation.

This is actually time for disabled experts, disabled persons organizations, human right bodies state organs practising disability mainstreaming should contribute to more inclusive Corona interventions.

What if the Kenyan disabled stakeholders changed tact and start to advocate for now the silent revolution of reasonable accommodation being implemented?

To put it differently why doesn’t the disability sector join the table instead of awaiting to be in the menu?

I opine, Kenya has great public policies on reasonable accommodation now is the right time to,

push for implementation.

let me illustrate

What if the disability sector and stakeholders pushed the national construction authority now to publish and implement real accessibility standards of buildings?

Most likely we shall have makeshift hospitals. Will they be accessible?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders within their budgets adjust and contribute to the ministry of health on inclusive approaches?

For instance, developing Kenyan sign language clip on how to prevent Corona virus then distribute to the mainstream media and social platforms?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders produce material into braille and distribute all over the country through the free matter for the blind service offered by poster corporation as entrenched in the persons with disabilities act 2003?

Does the disability sector know the time is now for implementing the Marrakesh treaty?

Could the global commitment made by Kenya government, private sector and disability stakeholders be revisited in the area of innovation and make non-metallic assistive devices?

 

All in all, this coronavirus comes with a silver lining. At least, it will pep up people to take normal civic sense to a higher status. So that besides coronavirus

we actually end up also fighting other issues like discrimination faced by Kenyans with this will lead to breaking some if not all the barriers that disabled Kenyans face.

 

 

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.

 

Why the DISABLED Kenyans are pregnant in the Corona era: Author Mugambi Paul

 

Generally speaking, The COVID-19 pandemic occurring in Kenya should be of utmost concern to every citizen. This is because we need to work together around the country in solidarity.

Ofcourse, the risen times are extra-ordinary. This is the times that will redefine Kenyan human spirit.

 Are we going to ensure disability-inclusive, accessible disaster-response?

On my own behalf and the disabled Kenyans

 We acknowledge the great leadership displayed by cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe of ministry of health under this difficult circumstance. Moreover, the CS is communicating in to minds and hearts of all citizens. Could this be adapted as the new norm to Kenyan organization culture of governance?

 

On the other hand, the Corona virus seems to have equalized all of us and the realization of the economic inequalities that exist among low income Kenyans

Amongst these is the largest minority “Kenyans with disabilities” of who make up more than 15 % of the population [WHO 2011]. we need to examine corona virus by waring the disability lenses.

On March 20th, 2020 during the daily updates a more disability inclusive approach was adapted.

This affirms that the CS is a great communicator.

though much needs to be done to realize disability Inclusive approaches.

As a  public policy scholar and a  person with lived experience of being blind I  opine that if what the CS health interventions were to be made long term policy execution the Kenyan  government will  overcome many challenges of including persons with disabilities and resolve the  unemployed citizens  mystery.

In other words, our policies must not discriminate. Disabled and low-income people must be included in every policy, every fund, every new law.

This is the real meaning of disability mainstreaming.

 

Background:

 

Kenyans with disabilities’ needs and concerns should be adequately addressed in existing COVID-19 Kenyan relief packages. 

I affirm that Disability impacts every community and occurs at every stage of life. In addition to impacting Kenyans with disabilities more disparately, the virus is also likely to create disability while people recover [WHO 2020].

Fact to consider:

I believe The Corona virus has awaken the public consciousness of what works for the disabled Kenyans can also work for all

Challenges faced by disabled Kenyans:

Unfortunately. Clean water and sanitation facilities aren’t always available or accessible, particularly for Kenyans with

Disabilities and the low-income earners [UNICEF 2017[.

Are the newly 500 water points in Nairobi accessible to all disabled Kenyans?

 Life-saving information often doesn’t reach those who are deaf, blind, using wheelchairs, illiterate, Deafblind or living in remote areas.

I uphold this global health emergency, the ability to read timely information in an accessible format is even more critical than usual. I   believe the more people access and act upon the information that Ministry of health leaders and public officials are

providing, the better we Kenyans can all cope with the rapidly evolving situation.

 

 

 Furthermore, the corona virus puts people with chronic diseases, Kenyans with disabilities, and the elderly most at risk. could the ministry of health issue a statement regarding rationing of care to ensure that when rationing treatment begins, decisions about how medical treatment should be allocated are made without discriminating based on disability?

 

 Worse still, the Kenyan health system is

not prepared. In China it is reported already some disabled persons have died due to starvation and nonattendance.

Information campaigns and medical care must include the needs of Kenyans with disabilities. It is pivotal that Kenyan state as a duty bearer identify and monitor people with

disabilities in their communities. Frontline staff need training on caring for people with disabilities in the crisis.  The ministry of health should also ensure protection of the front-line health workers by provision of the equipment which they need to execute their work safely

masks, gowns, shields, gloves, suits, and other equipment. Therefore, preventing further spreading of COVID-19.

I urge the Kenyan public policy makers and stakeholders to think boldly and broadly in their response to this pandemic and waste no time saving lives and have actionable long-term policies and regulations.

 

Different ILO studies have affirmed with proper reasonable accommodation execution productivity is high and brings diversity. For instance, If the ministry of public service, ministry of labour, federation of Kenya employers, employment authority, ministry of transport, disability experts can work together via video link can craft a reasonable accommodation regulation.

This is to say with flexibility and

creative solutions are more important than ever in this Corona era.

With this regulation, the president with his executive power ascent can save Kenya a great deal.

several studies and additional public health experts have stated that disabled Kenyans are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Beyond the specific conditions or diagnoses that may raise susceptibility to the virus itself, Kenyans with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the broader social, civil, and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus life in Kenya will never be the same again.

will this be a turning point for Kenyan Parliament and senate to ensure a inclusive social protection cover for the marginalized?

  Outlined below are a series of expectations that could benefit Kenya in the long run:

  1. Prioritize and Expand Home delivery services. This can be done through acceleration of M-post services since most Kenyans have Mobile phones additionally more private delivery companies can also be incorporated with a particular county. This would reduce the social contacts since most Kenyans go seeking for goods outside there vicinities.
  2. 24 shift working economy: this can be accelerated by both public and private employers thus even reduction of man hour spent on traffic. Moreover, through shift working economy it would increase work productivity. Some best practises can be borrowed from the private sector. Could this be an opportunity for implementing 2030 vision? Additionally, if adopted in Nairobi, Kisumu, Meru and Mombasa can say by bye to the traffic menace. Could the new Nairobi Metropolitan team adapt this?
  3.  

Prioritize access of digitalized documentation: if this was to be adopted most government documents would be gotten easily. For instance, one of the best recently successful is acquiring renewal of tax exemption among the Kenyans with disabilities although now with the advent of Corona Kenya revenue authority and NCPWD needs now more than ever to decentralize the service. This would actually reduce the transport expenses incurred by Kenyans and also save working hours.

  1. Cash transfer uptake: As the coronavirus crisis has caused a significant economic downturn, I believe that it is essential for ministry o of treasury  to authorize an increase in cash transfer programme to the ministry  of social protection in order to reduce the economic shocks among persons with disabilities,  the seniors of Kenyans   and their care givers. Who are already vulnerable and not covered with the current cash transfer programme.

This move will enable government of Kenya to reduce vulnerability levels.

5 food access:

Regular access to healthy food is key to maintaining strong immune systems. I   encourage the Kenyan government to expand access to food distribution during this period especially to chronic ill persons, the low-income earners, disabled Kenyans, the slum areas and vulnerable populations.

Regrettably, many Kenyan families even before corona era were living under distress for lack of one meal a day.

 Sadly, many Kenyans ability to keep and maintain employment will be impacted by both the business and transit closures.

If short term measures are not taken this might lead to civil strife and increase of psychosocial disabilities among Kenyans.

6.Access to transport: the Kenyan government can support the public transport sector by having reduction of oil prices thus preventing Kenyans from paying extra charges.

Additionally, the government owned busses offer the services to support the private owned public transport services with the new half full caring capacity policy implementation. Where are the NYS busses?

 I observe there has been increased discipline in the Matatu industry by the reduction of congestion by the ministry of Health directive.

Environmentally speaking, drastic air pollution has reduced.

 

How I wish it was a daily Norm in the public transport.

Could the government offer tax wavers for public transport to acquire disability inclusive buses?

 

7. Implementation of accessibility standards.

The national construction authority and disability stakeholders should rally behind and ensure when makeshift hospitals,

isolation facilities and construction of new hospitals are fully accessible and equipped with accessible beds.

Therefore, Duty bearers should ensure disability civil rights protections are fully protected since rights   are not negotiable. I believe time is ripe to enforce and implement article 27, 54 of the constitution and persons with disability act 2003 for protecting rights of disabled Kenyans.

  1. inclusive economic stimulus: Kenyans with disabilities must be included in the economic relief proposals now under consideration by the private sector and Kenyan government. Given that COVID-19 poses unique risks for Kenyans with disabilities and other low-income earners that may make it more difficult for those who are not in any form of employment. This will enable people with disabilities and low-income earners to be able to survive during the current crisis. The economic stimulus should be easily and equitably available for all. Of particular concern are men, women, girls and boys with disabilities.
  2. All of these recommendations are critical to addressing the spread of COVID-19 and addressing our nation’s public health more broadly and ensuring we meet the SDGS by not living any one behind.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The fragile state of this “network of mutuality” has become all too apparent during the coronavirus outbreak. Though we may be vulnerable, we are not dispensable. In fact, disabled Kenyans have critical experience to share in adapting to challenging and constantly changing situations affecting our health, employment, education, housing, and families–experience that all fellow Kenyans will need in the days and weeks ahead. We are grateful for the urgency with which the Ministry of Health is moving to make sure that the Kenyan people never feel the worst of this pandemic, and am seeking  only to protect Kenyan disability  community from the unintended but all too foreseeable impacts of discrimination.

especially during all phases of disaster preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

 

 

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert

the catastrophe of being Blind and Disabled in the Corona era “Lessons for Policy makers!” Author Mugambi Paul.

Kenyans living with disability are a vulnerable group; a larger proportion are older, and with underlying health conditions. Almost half of all people with disability
are aged 65 and above. And only 24% of adults with disability experience very good or excellent health, compared with 65% of without disability [world report 2011].
Apparently in Kenya, Disability is generally very misunderstood and very unacknowledged, even though 15 % of disabled Kenyans make up the population.
The world is paying close attention to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, following its emergence in December 2019 in Wuhan, China but the voice of disabled Kenyans is still inadequate.
This is because of lack of political influence, inadequate social services and lack of opportunities to adapt.
This indicates The rest of 85 % of Kenya’s population is engaged.
Over the last six years, the health sector in Kenya has exhibited significant developments, including the introduction of the Linda Mama (free maternity) initiative, the Beyond Zero campaign, efforts to revamp the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), as well as a multi-million dollar Medical Equipment Leasing scheme aimed at bringing advanced medical equipment closer to citizens across the 47 counties and in key referral facilities.
The inclusion of health in the president’s legacy priorities (Big Four Agenda) underlined this stated commitment to improving healthcare.
This obviously follows the Constitutional requirement, Kenya Health Act 2014 and Kenya Health Policy 2014-30. In addition, Kenya has ascribed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG No 3, that commits governments to provide quality healthcare for all.
Are these Kenyan Health regulation disability inclusive?
Data evidence:
According to latest data over 132,000 cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported and 4,900 people have died. The virus has reached 123 countries [WHO 2020[.
How does the virus spread?

Epidemiological evidence shows that 2019 nCoV can be transmitted from one individual to another. During previous outbreaks due to other coronaviruses, including Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV), human to human transmission most commonly occurred through droplets, personal contact, and contaminated objects (fomites). The modes of transmission of 2019 nCoV are likely to be similar.
The precise zoonotic (animal) origin of the 2019 nCoV is still uncertain. The virus has been identified in environmental samples from a live animal market in Wuhan, and some human cases have been epidemiologically linked to this market. Other coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, are also zoonotic, and can be transmitted from animals (civet cats and dromedary camels, respectively) to humans.
On the other hand, With the outbreak of a novel coronavirus declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, people worldwide are working to address it.
According to the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a terse statement that this is the first time the world is battling a pandemic against a coronavirus disease.
This has seen nations executing travel bans to sport shutdowns. Meanwhile other countries like Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and rwanda have locked out their countries.
coronavirus is changing life as we know it. It’s tough to know who to trust – that’s why it’s vital to receive facts.
Disabled Kenyans are at higher risk due to the multifaceted related factors in addition of having a disability. WHO is warning people across the world to avoid contact?
But populations in less developed countries like Kenya are wondering how that is possible when they still need to go to search for food, work, purchase items, go to church or mosque or connect with family and friends.
Key factors:
Rise of stigma and discrimination.
Already in existence it will be Upsurge by the lack of shaking hands as announced by the ministry of health.
Of course, Many Blind and disabled persons require support when crossing the busy Thika superhighway or the Westland routes.
For instance, Crutch and white cane users tend to touch metal rails, touching escalator handrails, using traffic light buttons, reaching for train door opening buttons and holding safely
on to handrails on public buses and Matatus while crossing, some may require to be held while crossing.
how can we avoid handshake?
I observe many disabled Kenyans are anxious. This is because we can control what we touch, but we can’t control what
other people have touched.
Will the ministries of health or ministry of transport provide qualified volunteers?
Or will the ministry of health or transport provide protective products like hand sanitizers to the public transport providers?
I observe, With the Corona in place discrimination and stigma will rise in totality since citizens with out disabilities will be having social distance thus disabled Kenyans might stop seeking services or refuse to travel.
Coupled with poverty levels many disabled Kenyans will not afford the buying of the required protective gears like hand sanitizers.

Second factor is Isolation:
Several studies show disabled persons have lived in isolation for long and this will be a lesson for persons without disabilities.
majority disabled Kenyans are at increased risk of serious or fatal complications from COVID-19 (coronavirus). In an active community outbreak, the
safest option may be to self-isolate at home, perhaps for weeks or longer. In order to prepare for this possibility, I believe its high time the Kenyan ministry of health recommends
that people at high risk stock up on necessities, including maintenance prescription medication.
Worst still, many disabled Kenyans can’t take this advice because m95 % of the disabled do not have insurance.
This is a great chance of disability stakeholders to network with the national hospital insurance fund to probably register all disabled persons visiting the health service providers.
Moreover, the lack of insurance as a social protection measure has left many disabled Kenyans to be more vulnerable.
Solution for NHIF:
I would suggest NHIF recognizes and automates its system to include the disability card issued by NCPWD.
Absolutely this would increase the uptake of insurance among disabled Kenyans.
Will the Kenyan legislature enact an insurance regulation of eliminating the wait time for employment insurance payments?
Third factor is Logistics:
Unfortunately, accessing the pharmacy can be risky for some disabled Kenyans and people with chronic illnesses and even pregnant women.
. Some people with disabilities may also face logistical challenges in getting to the pharmacy if support services become disrupted
due to sudden rise of isolations and being left behind.

Moreover, the Kenyan pharmacy are yet to embrace the mailing services. This could have been a solution instead of putting all at risk.
Will the delivery companies in Kenya grab the opportunity?
The ministry of health has announced measures of
Of ensuring localized outbreaks and social distancing measures are observed.
Absolutely, in some countries already there is massive disruption of supply chains. What can Kenyans with disabilities learn?
Disabled Kenyans and persons with chronic illnesses can’t stake their lives on the assumption that the availability of medications will remain stable in the coming weeks and
months. They need to be able to stock up now.

I opine that Disrupting treatment always endangers patients, but even more so in a pandemic.
The need for inpatient treatment will likely exceed capacity in many communities. this is because Kenya and other developing countries we still have weak health systems and inadequate health infrastructure. COVID-19 is expected to heavily tax the resources of the Kenyan health care system.
Will Kenya now revisit the Abuja declaration on Health Budgeting?
Further Than, outpatient clinics are likely to have a high number of patients
seeking treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, making avoidable visits risky for those more vulnerable to complications. Additionally, patients whose chronic
conditions are destabilized are in danger of becoming more severely ill if they are infected with COVID-19.
Water access:
In Kenya water access is a major challenge for all. Will the Kenya government break the cartels in the water industry to ensure water is readily available?
In Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and other major towns its proven fact that many households go for several months without accessing running taps and forced to buy. According to UNICEF 40 per cent of the world’s population, or 3 billion people, do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. Nearly three quarters of
the people in least developed countries lack basic handwashing facilities at home. Further, 47 per cent of schools lacked a handwashing facility with water and soap affecting 900 million school-age children. Over one third of schools worldwide
and half of schools in the least developed countries like Kenya have no place for children to wash their hands at all.
Forth factor nonvisual access:
Kenyans who are Blind or visually impaired do not have equal access to quantitative information including charts, graphs, and maps. For example, many of
us simply cannot perceive the data visualizations and dashboards that are regularly published by mainstream news organizations. As a result, we often have
limited or non-existent access to critical data, including information we aneed to make informed decisions pertaining to our work, finances and health. As
charts depicting the spread of Coronavirus and modelling how to flatten the curve are seen and discussed worldwide with Blind and visually impaired people
largely excluded from the conversation, we are starkly reminded that nonvisual access to data is vital to our equality and well-being.
The charts and graphics popularly known as “data visualizations” can – and should – be represented in formats that Blind and visually impaired Kenyans can
use.
Effects of COVID-19 on employment:
Centrally, my thoughts seem to be telling me a silent reasonable accommodation revolution in workplaces is being executed globally by Covid-19
as envisaged in the UNCRPD.
For instance, some tech companies Multinational like apple and google are demanding their employee to work at home. According to ILO 2017 with proper reasonable accommodations companies can benefit allot
This is to say that allowing employees to work remotely encourages more equality in the workforce by allowing more people with chronic illness and disabilities to participate and some studies show employees even report that they perform better in remote arrangements.
.
I believe working at home will assuaged persons with chronic illnesses and also individuals’ who are having low immunity.
Will the disability policy makers and employment gurus stakeholders rise to the occasion and present a reasonable accommodation legislation?
Now the people without disabilities we see your ableism tendencies being put in the right place
This shows implementation of disability related rights is possible. Should public and private sector await a catastrophe to implement disability laws?
It’s a fact that in Kenya after the road tragedy in 2002 by the Third president who was sworn on a wheelchair made the signing of the persons with disabilities act 2003.
Will public and private sectors reduce demand for office spaces?
Will public and private sectors in developing nations like Kenya adopt 24 hour economy by having there staff to work on shifts in order to avoid social contact?
Will companies in developing countries stop the analogue economy and switch to digitalization?
What does this mean to both employed and unemployed disabled?
What does COVID-19 mean to the almost 70 % of informal employment in Kenya who do not use digital devices?
All in all, we need disabled persons organizations to be engaged in advocacy on protecting people with disabilities from COVID-19 in both national and county levels.
This is by way of ensuring we have inclusive emergency plans and actions.

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

Why the Kenya Revenue Authority should partake responsibility of tax exemption for the disabled Kenyans!

During the past 3 decades in Kenya there have been numerous changes in our society with respect to the management and treatment of people with disabilities.
Of course, there ar numerous success stories of actual improved disability mainstreaming.
How did the changes occur?
Many legislative and societal changes have taken place for instance, the disability act of 2003, the UNCRPD 2006 and the 2010 constitution and several disability related regulations. Furthermore, these gains have been necessitated by the lobbing and advocacy by disabled persons and their organizations.
On the other hand, Disability mainstreaming and work to end discrimination against disabled persons have been on both government and non-state actors’ agendas for decades. Why is disability mainstreaming still important?
Some of us feel that “everyone” in government and non-state actors who include development and human rights organisations are well aware of the issues. But the truth is that in organisations without
any explicit focus on disability mainstreaming or disability social justice, the levels of awareness for disability-based discrimination (and the need to end it) tend to be uneven.
Am not surprised by the inaccessible built environment, inaccessible information or the negative attitudes which still exist among the Kenyan society.

Efforts to promote disability equality remain limited and often isolated. Some would prefer to drop “disability” altogether, busy as they feel with all those other
issues that must be “mainstreamed” – good governance, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, “you name it!”

most government and private entities normally pass on the back when dealing with disability matters!
I opine that ignorance in the Kenyan society is very expensive for disabled persons.
Why should and institution require permission to offer disabled person a service?

As citizens we do not require permission to get a passport, when one has Malaria a disabled person doesn’t require permission.
Why does Kenya revenue authority run away from its responsibilities?
As long as one has uploaded the right documentation there is no need of putting more barrier for the disabled persons.
Why are policy makers silent on this injustice?
Most top government policy makers and stakeholders have done benchmarking of disability services in other countries and they know how good and proper systems work for the people.
Why are they not actualizing simple and impactful solutions to the disabled persons?

. But there are at least five reasons why “disability mainstreaming” must continue:
list of 5 items
1. Organisations that are committed to universal human rights have a responsibility to ensure their work respects and promotes human rights. Disabled rights
are human rights, enshrined in widely accepted international treaties as the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities UNCRPD 2006.

Any rights-based approach that neglects disabled persons rights is inadequate.

2. International movements and campaigns rally large numbers of disabled people. Disabled persons make the largest minority group in the world

if government institutions who are the planners, implementers and evaluators ignore disabled interests and needs, and refrain from
engaging disabled persons as interlocutors, collaborators and allies.
They will never get it right!
3. Many development and human rights agencies are into education and campaigning – i.e., they attempt to spread ideas around, and to mobilise others to
join them in their cause. The messages they convey, implicitly or explicitly,
influence people’s minds: research has shown that campaigning can reinforce or weaken people’s value systems – broadly speaking, what they consider to
be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. (See for example the gender mainstreaming angle.
Hence, it is important to avoid reinforcing values that condone discrimination and other violations against disabled persons
which would be in stark contradiction with the development and human rights goals most of us defend.
The disability organizations need to take lead in voicing what needs to be don on tax related concerns.
Disabled persons should not just be raising concerns on the social media but take the demands to the Kenya revenue authority.
The Kenya revenue authority need to work along side disabled persons in order to ensure smooth and faster process is achieved.
4. disability -based violence is not only one of the most pervasive human rights violations, it also jeopardises development. For example, large numbers of disabled persons have experienced delayed service delivery due to the bureaucratic processes. For instance, delayed in tax exemption renewal, with
dire consequences for their physical well-being, their mental health and their social status. Getting tax exemption is right, but y risk their
lives because of high cost of transport, psychological wellbeing. The Kenya revenue authority should know that most disabled persons are unemployed and for those who do not get access to the service
are likely to feel abused, something is deeply wrong.
Additionally, the Kenya economy is highly affected by wastage of hours on the road.
The tax exemption should have been simplified through decentralization of Kenya revenue authority services at the county.
In other words, if the digitalization process ways actualized the staff at Kenya revenue authority would be able to automatically issue exemption certificates without delay.
The disability mainstreaming focal point person at Kenya revenue has to actualize the dreams of disabled persons by ensuring the system works beyond himself or herself.
Are there government institutions, private sectors who have been given tax relief by the Kenya revenue authority for promoting disability employment and improving access for disabled persons in Kenya?
5. In terms of efficiency, any organisation has a responsibility to serve the disable persons who need their service.
Disabled persons should not be treated as second class citizen in government services.
Siting an example in 2019 May the Kenyan government in collaboration with world bank launched the braille version of the 2030 vision which in essence non blind persons read a decade ago. Is this fair?
The Kenyan policy makers need to stop the mancantile policy process and adapt solution-oriented policy and procedures.

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.

Why the Kenyan census 2019 remains a mystery to the many poor and disabled Kenyans! Author Mugambi M. Paul

Over 1 billion people globally, including 494 million in Sub-Saharan Africa (roughly 45% of the population), lack government-recognized proof of identification [UN 2017.] This hampers their access to critical financial and social services and raises barriers to exercising political and economic rights. Obviously, several studies have shown that lack of desegregated
data among the disabled persons has greatly impacted negatively towards lives of the disabled community [world bank 2011].
According to [KBS 2009] Kenyans with disabilities make up 3.8 %.
However, these statistics are debatable and disabled persons organizations have argued that proper mechanisms were not in place.
Will the 2019 August census in Kenya be different?
The answer lies on the shoulders of the Kenya neural of statistics.
They have been able to adapt the Washington set of questions, but this will be put in to test during the data collections.
However, in the development of the censor’s committees still disabled persons organizations nor the county disability officers are not represented.
This is a great setback of ensuring inclusivity and raising the voice of persons with disabilities.
The policy makers need to adopt measures urgently at the ministry of interior to ensure disability representatives are added. This should not just be for quantity but provide quality and real representation in public participation.
Additionally, the county governments need to be keen on what the data of persons with disabilities mean in matters of service delivery and enhancement of proper support for persons with disabilities ]2010 Kenyan constitution]. It’s prudent to mention that the county governments are the service providers in their own counties.
persons with disabilities and thee organizations need to knock on the county government to ensure that the census collected becomes meanful in service delivery and planning.
At list a third of the counties have enacted county disability laws but are yet to implement.
I take note that Persons with disabilities face several challenges in receiving identification documents and presenting these documents to access services.
There is no exact information to show how many disabled persons have received particular government or private sector services.
What is emerging clearly as a public policy scholar I uphold Kenya should adapt to data driven analysis.
is in order to fight poverty.
Thus having need evidence-based thinking and plenty of good data.
The Kenyan census should be huge part of this phenomenon. Although it can be easy to overlook, it’s actually incredibly important because this data will inform the Kenyan government decisions that will shape millions of lives.
Recognizing this, I believe Kenya has a chance of its new census data to be more accurate, comprehensive, and granular than in the past. Will the Kenya beural of statistics switch to digital tablets? Will the Kenya bural of statistics use satellite imagery to make sure households in rural areas don’t go undiscovered and uncounted? The jury is out there.
I look forward for a disability desegregated data at the county levels.

I trust The government is now seriously committed to a “leave no one behind” ethic, which means counting every single person in the population. That includes people who are sometimes called “the invisible” — those who live in slums, disabled persons , who are homeless, or who are institutionalized.

These people are harder to reach, but without counting them and identifying which places they’re concentrated in and which services they lack, it’s difficult to design targeted interventions that will actually help them. Kenya and other African countries are increasingly treating this kind of data-driven approach as crucial to their development.
The Kenya bural of statistics must adapt many new ways which Kenya is leveraging data. That includes a biometric national ID system the so called Hudumanumber. (more than 30 million Kenyans have registered for it so far.
I suggest that Kenya adapts a digital address system (whereby every five square meters in the country will have its own unique address).
This way government can target services to people, once you know where they are.
How do you count “the invisible”?

Kenya’s census will take place in August 2019 for 3 days not a lot of time to survey a population of approximately 50 million people. But I believe the preparations begun well in advance, and this time, they will include a lot of help from new technology.

For the first time, will the enumerators use digital tablets to survey the population?I opine that through this they will be able to have answers to be checked for inconsistencies or omissions in real time. Will the Kenyan bural of statistics use Electronic maps?
This will help enumerators make sure they’re counting everyone in their demarcated area. GPS will pinpoint and record the exact location where each interview will be conducted.

Meanwhile, will the Kenyand government officials use satellite imagery to identify all housing structures in the country?
I affirm that if the enumerators go out into the field, an image showing which locations they’ve covered will be overlaid on top of the satellite imagery.
This will allow the officials to determine which areas may have been missed.

Usually it’s in rural areas, enumerators may not have known people are living there.
The Hudumanamba enrollment should be a wake-up call before the census begins.
Most developed and developing nations are increasingly looking to leapfrog challenges with traditional ID systems by moving to digital identification systems through the use of new technologies. Kenyan government has not been left behind since it’s a leader in digital Enovation in Africa.
The Kenyan government has introduced Hudumanamba system for its all citizens and the diaspora populations.
Digital identification systems are attractive to governments due to potential benefits of universal coverage and unique authentication. Were persons with disabilities, organizations for persons with disabilities consulted on the process?
It seems the government of Kenya denied its citizens the public participation
And say on this agenda. This has led to a court case making it voluntary to register for Hudumanamba.
On the other hand, Kenyans who need services might find themselves at catch 22 when the hudumanamba services will be rolled out.

Digital identification systems use a range of technologies include biometrics scanners, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and other emerging mobile technologies.
The rapid moves towards digital identification systems raises both opportunities and challenges in ensuring that persons with disabilities can register for, receive, and use their unique identification. Will the disabled persons stop using the disabled cards?
Will the registration of newly disabled persons be conducted after the Huduanamba registration?
What’s the link between the registration for disabled persons and the hudumanamba roll out?
It seems the Kenyan government still stand accused of enhancing bureaucracy towards achievement of vital services to persons with disabilities with this unlinked processes and procedures.

Hudumanamba card is speculated it will offer alternative mechanisms to ensure that the lack of breeder documents (e.g. birth certificates) do not hamper individuals’ abilities to receive important credentials and open pathways to receiving economic and social services. At the same time, they need to be carefully designed to ensure accessibility and inclusion. Some of the Problems that emerged during the Hudumanamba registration included when persons with disabilities were unable to provide biometric data. e.g. due to lack of an iris or fingerprints), algorithms did not recognize certain facial features, or most hudumanamba centers fail to provide accessible accommodations and exceptions.
For instance, lack of alternative formats for the information, which was being gathered to the Blind, vision impaired, intellectual impaired and the Deafblind,
Another example is the inaccessible venues for the hudumanamba registration.
This was also coupled by Lack of staff training, and awareness of disability issues.
Furthermore, many disabled persons allegedly reported mistreatment during the process.
Thus, having significant challenges in the process of registration.
Will the Kenya bural l of statistics take lessons for the upcoming census?
The jury is outside!
All in all, the globe is embracing the digitalization of government services.
Disabled persons are not to be left behind.
Solution is to ensure we have inclusive policy and regulations
Thus, enabling the policy implementation to cater for the needs and priorities of disabled persons.
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.

THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING IT IN KENYA AS A BLIND MAN! Guest Author Reuben Kigame

Allow me to be candid. I am blind and it is hard making it in Kenya, no matter how qualified, gifted, blessed or otherwise. I am not talking about the usual things one has to contend with every day such as stereotyping and stigmatization. I am talking about having everything you can have with regard to qualification and abilities but not going very far; why? You are blind. I mean, you cannot see; and that is a problem. I am not talking about affirmative action – which, by the way does not exist – but about having all you can have and still having to count on God alone to make it in life. I am not suggesting that there is another person to count on besides God, but that you realize without God it is not worth living here.
I apologize for what you are about to read in advance, but if it will help someone understand something, I will have achieved something. This is partly my motivation for being part of the prayer to hand over Kenya back to God next week. So, please bear with me and be patient with me as you read, because tonight, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body, God knows.
So, what does it feel like being Reuben and being blind in Kenya? First of all, people talk to you through other people, assuming that, because you are blind, you also cannot hear. They will tell my wife who is right next to me things like, “Tell him I have said hi!” or, “Tell him I like his songs! … …!” It used to get to me. Now it does not, and I just laugh it away and chuckle back, “Please tell him/her back for me that I have said hi! … …!” It is equally assumed that because I am blind, if there is one seat in a place, my wife or daughter should not have it because they can see, and I can’t. So, if I tell my wife to have the seat as I stand, she is looked at as unkind and unthinking. Reason? To be blind is also to be unable to stand as your wife or daughter sits. I have been the talk of Eldoret when I have gone jogging or shopping with equal measure. But all this is child-play compared to what you are about to read. Let us talk about employment first.
It was early 1987 when I asked for a short-term teaching job at Ebusiloli Secondary School after completing my Form 6. I was denied the job. They kept me waiting. They finally told me to call my dad so they could talk to him. Need I say anything more? I did not get the job. Someone else was hired. Being in Vihiga County, I could partly understand why, when running for office to be its first Governor in 2013, although I beat all the odds and made it to the ballot, some of my opponents had very bad things to say by way of convincing the voters that they should vote for them instead of me. One of them from my own Bunyore village literally undertook campaigning for Moses Akaranga and made everyone around him and wherever he went believe that I did not even know how to count money and so I would not be able to handle the county funds … It is too much to entrust billions to a blind man; they would be stolen and he would not even know where to start handling economic issues. Another told people that I would not be in a position to assess any projects because I would not be able to tell even how a good-looking house is from a bad-looking one. … In short, it was equally easy to steal my votes because I did not even know how to count ballot papers. I swallowed it all, complete with the numerous promises of Vihiga pastors and bishops that they would vote for me because I was a Christian like them, and then … the rest is history.
When I lost the election, I called Moses Akaranga and conceded defeat. I told him that if he needed me, I would be willing to share my agenda with him. The only time he reached out to me was by proxy inviting me for a meeting where he was to meet with “disabled persons” in Vihiga at Mbale. What was he going to do? Just give them some food and they tell them that he cared for them. In short, I did not go. I told the person who was inviting me, two days to the event that I will not come. I would only go if there was agenda. I felt insulted and I feel he insulted persons living with disability.
Let me fast-forward to the day I finally wanted to get married after college and had done everything except for the buying of the rings. I then took Mercy to the jeweler at one of the shops in Nairobi. First, the staff did not want to talk to me because they were busy serving other customers, mark you, including those who kept coming after me. I finally grubbed the courage to insist on being served next and so was reluctantly asked, “What do you want?” I said I wanted to buy some wedding rings. I was asked if I was the one getting married. I said “yes.”
“There are many different types … 100, 200, 300 and some more expensive. …” said he as he walked away to serve another customer.
I insisted, “Do you have any others?”
“Yes, but they are quite expensive, like diamond, gold, mixed, pure, many, many, many.” He walked away again.
“I want a pure gold ring,” I said.
He was quiet. I repeated myself. He then just said, “They are very expensive.”
To cut the story short. I ended up buying the most expensive rings he had left and I could hear that I was the talk of the street as I left, shocked. I cannot even recount how many times I have been denied the opportunity to check out a cooker or stereo, just because they believed I could not afford or did not understand what I was buying. As a young high school teacher, I remember the shock people had at the store where I went to buy my very first television set. It was drama.
When I was remarrying, I saw drama. A friend of mine kept telling me that he did not understand how I as a blind man could manage to get such a pretty girl with dimples like Julie! Implications? I qualify for those who look less attractive. By the way I do not even believe that those thought to be less attractive are actually less attractive. It is their opinion. Then a pastor calls Julie and tells her that he would counsel her by herself because I did not need counseling myself. When we went to see the pastor who would then marry us and showed him our self-composed vows, Julie’s were shorter than mine. He made the remark, “Usually long vows indicate that someone has something to hide!” Should I say more? I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
Fast-forward again to the recent past. About two years ago, the Public Service board of Uasin-Gishu County advertised for a position on their Agriculture and Mechanization board which needed to be filled by a person living with disability. Because of my gubernatorial interests before, I had got a lot of acquaintance with Agricultural and mechanization matters and quite a bit of experience from my media days in matters to do with human resource management. I went for the interview and, according to some of those who interviewed me, I actually did exceptionally well. Believe you me, to this day, I have never ever heard from Uasin-Gishu county about this; not even if I flopped.
I recall too, running a coffee house at Zion Mall in Eldoret. My café was broken into three times and, with all the CCTV cameras and guards at the mall, to this day, nobody has ever been apprehended, not to mention that at the point of leaving the premises, out of sheer frustration, I came to learn that my competitor at the mall was being charged almost half of what I was asked to pay in rent. What can one say? Why was that the case?
Then in 2014 I visited Hon Mandago at his office and shared with him my proposal to expand my small music school in Eldoret so that I could serve more Uasin-Gishu youth with music and performing arts skills including trying to get street children off the street by teaching some of them how to play music instruments. He was excited and even said he would bring his own child to train. He indicated that they would do something small by the end of that financial year. I have waited since 2014 till now, 2019. I have not stopped doing the little I can. But it showed me how valuable I was in a county that continues to allocate money year after year for projects. I quietly learned that this was Kenya for me.
I am sharing this, not to embarrass or offend anyone, but to call for a turn around. After shutting down Fish FM in 2015, it was hard for me to go back to radio again. Indeed I never knew I would desire to be involved again. Although I had the experience of fifteen years then, nineteen now, in broadcasting, nine of those years running a station whose license took six years to get, I saw an advert at a Christian radio station where they needed a Manager. I applied. They acknowledged receipt of my application, but to this day, I have never heard from them; not even a regret. When I moved to Nairobi recently for studies, I asked for a part-time radio presenter position. They asked for my papers and indicated I was qualified and needed. That was the end. I emailed! I texted! I called! Nobody would answer my emails. Nobody would pick my calls. Nobody would respond to my texts. With my country Music experience, I have applied to several Nairobi stations wanting to do for them a Sunday evening Country show. My applications are received and that is the end. Never mind that besides KBC, I was the next person in Kenyan radio to introduce country music, and that on Christian stations, beginning with Family FM back in 2001. I have been ignored, even though, I think I am the first blind man in the world to start a radio station and run it for that long. My MSc in Journalism and Media Studies does not mean much any time I mention it in interviews.
My most recent radio attempt experience came after a gentleman travelled all the way from Thika to Eldoret to slash his girlfriend to death. I contacted one of our big stations requesting to do a family talk show at night to help address the rising homicides and relationship challenges. They asked me to send in a proposal and concept. I did. That was the end. The boss of the station would not receive my calls. He would not respond to my texts. In short I was ignored. …
Several years ago, as a musician and producer, I developed some exceptional jingles for Radio Citizen. They just received them and then went quiet. Forever. Everybody around me thinks they are great. Not them. This is not an audio platform. I would have posted them here for every one of you to judge. Never mind that I did some jingles for the station when they were starting about twenty years ago, and despite using them for several years, I never received a single cent from Royal Media. I have talked to staff at the Standard Group asking for the same position for the talk show. The response is the same.
Let’s return to academic institutions. I prepared courses for a Christian University in Nairobi last year for the launch of their M.A. in Apologetics degree. I developed ten courses in general in a booklet of about 40 pages. It was received and then they went quiet. I know many of you already know I was supposed to be teaching this semester at a different university from the one I have just mentioned – St Paul’s. I interviewed for the job and then the university went quiet after allocating me courses. This is in spite of following up.
Let me close for now by sharing about trying to reach our leaders in government. I guess it is possible for everyone else except me. When preparing to have the first fundraiser for our ministry bus last December, I asked a friend of mine who works with one of the County Governments to request the Deputy President, His Excellency William Ruto, to kindly consider being our chief guest. He said he would request him, they are friends. He then just vanished, would not answer my calls anymore and would not return my texts. He then called and suggested we try and get Mama Rachel. I got excited because Mama Rachel has been to our home, their daughter and my daughters went to the same school. Mama Rachel used to be my travel agent at one point. So I got excited. That was the end. When I finally got the urge to just pick up my phone and call her myself, of course, there was no answer. I texted. No answer. I called a few days later and a lady picks the phone and when I introduced myself she said it was not Mama Rachel’s number and they did not know who I was. I checked with mutual friends if I had the wrong number. They confirmed it was the correct number. I left it. … Twice when singing at State House, the president has indicated he would want me to visit. I then took the liberty to write and request him to be our guest. My letters reached but that was the end.
I have been swindled by several people in this country. I take the matters to lawyers and they say they can help. That is usually the end. I have been in the music ministry for 32 years, but still had to buy my car through a loan. I just had to abandon the fight for my millions of shillings literally squandered by the Music copyright Society of Kenya whose directors now wallow in untold riches as I struggle just to raise enough to go to school, again because organizations such as the National Council of Persons With disability will not hear a thing about helping with funding my education. Not the master’s programme and now not the Ph.D. programme. I struggle so hard in a country where Safaricom makes millions from my music but pays me peanuts after sharing more of my money with go-between groups that will not even give statements for the monthly incomes. The bosses at PRISK and KAMP eat a lot of my sweat every month as I slowly slide into my old age. …
Perhaps the saddest of all my struggles as a blind man in Kenya is with the Church. Let me write it here so that nobody will say they do not know. I go to minister at a Mombasa church for two days about two years ago and I am given an honorarium of kshs15000. In the last meeting, it is announced that the next week one of the musicians I will leave unnamed, from Nairobi, will be at the Church – for an afternoon – and that the church should help raise one hundred thousand shillings for her. I know churches in Nairobi by name that are prepared to pay Tanzanian musicians kshs200,000 or kshs300,000 for a concert, and the musicians will come and sing over a Cd, merely showing their faces, but when I come to minister with a team of 25 or 30 people, I am given twenty thousand Kenya shillings for my fuel to and from Eldoret and for the transportation of the rest of the team. When one raises the question why such affluent churches do this to me and not to the other musicians, I am told I am becoming money-minded. That is not true. The difference is, the others are not blind and I am. Blind people are paid little, you see! Or shall we just say, the other musicians look better than me! Or not?
I will not even go into churches in Nairobi telling me to the face that they do not charge for concerts and we even have to talk for long about the permission to take an offering to help us with expenses, after we have made the concerts free for everyone. … Again, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
One day, most of these who avoid me now, will hear I have died. Then they will rush to form WhatsApp groups to raise money for themselves, say I used to write good songs or even buy me a nice coffin that looks good on cameras so that it can be said they honoured me and gave me a good send-off. If I do go before any of you, please save your monies. There will be plenty to eat from my music and books, anyway, after I am gone with nobody to stop you.
In other words, that is Kenya for me. That is the Kenya that ignores me while thinking I have so much that nobody should care to do what is right for me. This is the Kenya that says it enjoys my music and even uses it on public holidays at stadia as the Police or Army bands play song after song. This is the country with organization after organization, budget after budget that would make a big difference, but alas! This is the nation with so many opportunities that are thrown at you every day, but you never touch a single one. We have to fight tooth and claw looking only to God as resources are stolen every day. Sometimes it is tempting to just leave the country for those who deserve it more than me! Forgive me for such a long post. I have left enough out and just pledge that I will not bother you on this topic again. … It is enough what has been done to me. Please don’t do it to others living with any disability!

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

The two Sleeping blind giants in Kenya: author Mugambi Paul

Reading the annual general meeting invite by the Kenya society for the blind gives a familiar script.
The process and conduct of doing things seem to be usual.
No logical or pragmatic turnaround of event.
The Kenya Society for the Blind is a statutory charitable organization established in 1956 by an Act of Parliament this institution is meant to guide, offer technical support to matters Blindness and vision impaired to the government and stakeholders.
Has Kenya society for the Blind lived to its promises envisaged in the 1956 at?
What is the role of government in ensuring the Blind and vision impaired persons live to exploit their potentials?
Did the government escape duty and obligation to the blind and vision impaired persons?
When shall we have the updated Kenya society for the blind act to meet the current issues faced by the blind and vision impaired persons?
The act needs to be aligned with the Kenyan constitution 2010, UNCRPD, Public ethics act and public participations act.

This is not to say that nothing is happening.
As a matter of fact,
Kenya society for the blind has held several charity activities geared towards education of the blind pupils.
Additionally, there are many grey areas on matters Blindness and vision impairment in Kenya.
Its either the Kenya Blindness sector has decided to be dormant or the system has refused to change.
For instance, in matters governance even with known lawyers we aren’t able to differentiate the roles played by board members and staff.
This is totally uncalled for and review needs to be done urgently.

This seems to be a common practice among the disabled persons organization in
Kenya. With this notwithstanding, in matters programming several issues can be raised.
What are the pros and cons of having car garages in the premises?
How many blind and vision impaired persons have gainfully been absorbed by the new ventures?

Several studies and social media posts have continuously demonstrated this behavior.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/782290015159886?view=permalink&id=1860411574014386&refid=46&__xts__%5B0%5D=12.%7B%22unit_id_click_type%22%3A%22graph_search_results_item_tapped%22%2C%22click_type%22%3A%22result%22%2C%22module_id%22%3A8%2C%22result_id%22%3A%22100000309023349%3A1860411574014386%22%2C%22session_id%22%3A%2294af8b3a8130b8cd80ffb146320fa7d7%22%2C%22module_role%22%3A%22FEED_POSTS%22%2C%22unit_id%22%3A%22browse_rl%3Abab2c8d9-58c6-03bb-6970-555f4984237d%22%2C%22browse_result_type%22%3A%22browse_type_story%22%2C%22unit_id_result_id%22%3A1860411574014386%2C%22module_result_position%22%3A0%2C%22result_creation_time%22%3A1539597936%7D&__tn__=%2As
secondly on face value the Kenya union of the blind is supposed to be the voice of blind and vision impaired in Kenya.
theoretically, Kenya union of the blind is mandated to be bold and grant the self and systemic advocacy initiatives among the blind and vision impaired persons.
It’s an institution where the blind and vision impaired persons can be able to become self-advocate.
It is also a platform
For engagement with government and stakeholders.
Can we claim the blind and vision impaired persons are self-advocates?
Is there a mentorship and leadership practice?
Where is the status implementation of marekesh treaty??
In matters governance Kenya union of the blind stand to be condemned for its status.
Am not surprised that the largest blindness organization in Kenya has the same chairperson for the last 30 years.

To make the matters worse
The chairperson was appointed as a commissioner in a state organ which is also supposed to play an oversight role on disability matters in the country.
This is a true example of conflict of public interests!
This discussion is held in low tones in the disability sector.
Am not flabbergasted when the Kenyan blindness sector has not experienced significant reforms for its current and future generations.
The barriers faced by blind and vision impaired persons have been compounded by the sleeping advocacy organ.
It seems the mediocre practises are in the Kenyan DNA.
Several researches have shown how many blind and vision impaired persons have low esteem combined with the restrictive environment they have lived.
This affirms why most individuals with disabilities are not able to advocate for themselves.
On the other hand, the disabled persons who seem to advocate for themselves are treated as riles or individuals who are outcasts.
Its high time the Kenyan blindness sector arose from slumbered and demonstrate with collective and unifying voice life will be better for present and future generation of the Blind and vision impaired persons. A clarion call is be stalled upon individuals to show the light.
As Martin Niemöller a prominent Lutheran pastor in reference to the Nazi regime, once said;
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out; because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Furthermore, there has been rise of new entrants in the Kenyan blindness sector.
In other words, the new kids on the block in the blindness and vision impaired sector need to take lessons from the 2 sleeping giants.
This will aid effective engagement and bring the blind and vision impaired persons to their rightful place.
The Kenyan government needs to establish an oversight agency to ensure the Blind and vision impaired persons do not become vulnerable under this circumstance.
Its clearly known that there are no support mechanisms in place to support blind and vision impaired persons.
The 98 % of the blind and vision impaired individuals are just survivors in Kenya.

some recommendations to the Kenya society for the blind and Kenya union of the blind.
1. Put the house in order by reviewing the ACT of 1956. By public participation and engaging policy makers.
2. Review the governance and regulation policies.
3. Conduct a self-surgery before the reforms take place. To demonstrate this, we Kenya used to have telephone booths later on Mobile took over. We used to have tined cooking oil now we have rapped and plastic cooking oils.to bring matters to perspective, Kenya society for the Blind used to advocate for persons with albinism. Things changed drastically and now persons with albinism left the Blind and vision impaired wagon for better tides.
All in all, the future is bright for the blind and vision impaired persons.
As a public policy scholar on diversity and inclusion I will strive to contribute by rearing many more disabled persons to be their own best advocate
I have recognized that as a blind person, if you know the laws and understand your rights you are the most authentic spokesperson for yourself. Thus, much of my work is now cut out
It doesn’t matter the time, but we are heading there.
Advocacy is one of the most important reasons for me to connect with disabled people and their families. When I do, I will teach them that they are not alone,
I will empower them with the tools to raise their own expectations, and I will connect them with an unparalleled network that will be a lifelong resource for them
to continue to be strong advocates for themselves.

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.