DREAM OF DISABLED KENYANS. A speech on 3rd December to commemorate the international day of persons with disabilities in Kenya. Author Mugambi Paul

As Lopita Nyong’o said “dreams are valid”

I am humbled and grateful as your Cabinet Secretary.
The Makueni governor,

My principle secretary,
NCPWD board and secretariat.,
The ministry of labor social services.
Distinguished disabled persons, wananchi hamjambo?

I’m preaching to the converted when I say that getting a job and having a job is an absolute game-changer in everybody’s life and that shouldn’t be any different for somebody who has a disability or somebody who lives without one.
The importance of the independence, the self-confidence, the skills and the connections to society and community that are created when you have a job are absolutely essential and not the least of which it means you have an income.
needless to say, we are committed as a Government around employment for all Kenyans but in my position as the Cabinet secretary for Labor and Social Services I’m very focussed on disability employment.
My one simple goal as the cabinet secretary responsible is to make sure we give Kenyans who have a disability access to the full suite of opportunities in the employment sector – whether it be self-employment, open employment, supported employment or other types of employment.
In other words, it is absolutely essential we continue to focus on that.
I want every Kenyan living with a disability who has the capacity to work to get a job.
In particular, I want to see more opportunities for every person who’s able to get into open employment, to actually be open employment.
I want to make sure that employers see employing a person with a disability as just a mainstream, everyday activity.
I want everybody who’s living with a disability to gain from the big for agenda plan by the president.

Furthermore, with respect to the world of work, Kenyans living with disabilities have historically faced serious challenges and barriers impeding their access to employment.
This represents a violation not only of their rights, but a loss for our societies and economies. Many persons with disabilities continue to face discrimination
with respect to opportunities and outcomes in the Kenya world of work.

According to Thorkil Sonne, Chairman of Denmark’s Council for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development Goals (
“Results from many employers show that it makes good business sense to provide inclusive work environments for people with disabilities. You will get the
work done, and also harvest positive side-effects such as higher engagement, higher retention rate, joy of work, sense of purpose and improved management
skills in the workplace.”
Unfortunately, employment in Kenya does remain an issue for people with disability – I’m not telling you anything that you don’t know.its a proven fact that many employers in both public and private entities have continuously practiced marginalization and discriminatory tendencies [ILO 2017 Whiteford 2018]
For instance, some employers have failed to consult disable employees and thus arbitrarily transferring them.
This must stop since it causes mental distress and frustrate the employees with disabilities.
To make matters worse no provision of reasonable accommodation and measures are put into place.
As a government we shall take actions to ensure especially the public entities provide platform of consultation as envisaged in in the 2010 constitution. This is well supported by ensuring reasonable accommodation as enshrined in the UNCRPD and the public service disability mainstreaming regulations 2018.
My ministry will set the example by ensuring this is followed to the latter.
I also take note of Participation in the workforce for people with disability which is lower than those that live without a disability [daily nation 2015]
Participation rates for people without disability continues to improve in our workforce but participation rates for people with a disability hasn’t [Mugambi 2017[
In fact, at the moment there’s a 70-percentage point difference between the participation rate for people who are without disability and those with a disability.
Additionally, we are absolutely committed to make sure that we fix that problem and there is every reason that we can with the help of the people that are here in Makueni.
Improving employment outcomes is a high priority when it comes to disability and I’m sure that it’s absolutely the highest priority for Kenyan government.
But equally we understand that as Kenyan government there are things that we need to do, levers that we need to pull, policies that we need to put in place to ensure that we give you the best opportunity to deliver on behalf of the people in Kenya with disability.

Today, I wanted to talk about some of the key policy levers:
Social protection strategy.
NCPWD strategy
Persons with disability bill 2019.
Draft disability policy
National action plan on accessibility.
At the end of the day, my decisions are guided by what is best for the individual and that must be guided by the feedback that I get from individuals who live with disability and from people like you who engage on a day-to-day basis with the employment sector.
I hope the national employment authority, NCPWD, federation of Kenya employers and other stakeholders will be keen to realize this dream and vision of ensuring Kenyans with disabilities get to the job market.
Its clear in my mind employment of persons with disabilities is the most absolutely needful priority of all times.
We thank the NCPWD for the last 16 years for endeavoring to reach out to employers.
NCPWD through the disability mainstreaming have helped employers to get themselves up to speed in understanding what it is to employ somebody with a disability but, most importantly, to retain those people in the workforce.
Over the next 3 years, my ministry will collaborate with partners and ensure we commit to reducing the unemployment rate among Kenyans with disabilities.
This is through having substantial reforms which will ensure improved employment outcomes.

I am keen to hear back from you as to how you think things are going and what you would like to see us doing in the future so that we ensure that we maximize the opportunity for every Kenyan with a disability who wants to work to be able to get that job and keep it.
In other words, this will ensure disabled persons are at the co plans and get to participate in public policy reforms and implementation.
Moreover, A crucial element in all our efforts to increase the employment outcomes for people with disability is the attitude of employers.
It’s disappointing to see that whilst research points to the fact there is a desire for employers to employ people with disability, that desire doesn’t often translate into actual action.
A lack of confidence appears to remain in the wider employment sector about employing people with disability.
I want to work with you on how we encourage greater understanding in the employment sector about the huge benefits of employing somebody with a disability.
If we can just get the employers through the door, they will be able to understand that with the right support people with a disability can be some of the greatest employees that they will ever have.
I think that’s what we need to make sure to continue.
We can do better; we will do better and I’m sure working together that that outcome will actually be achieved.
We need to make sure we give people with disability access to the full suite of options for employment – be it self-employment, supported employment or mainstream private and public sector.
Lastly I promise Over the coming 12 months the Department will be working with all sectors, whether it be your sector, whether it be people with disability, whether it be the business community or county governments, to make sure that we develop a Disability Employment Strategy that starts to mainstream disability employment into everybody’s vocabulary.
Because clearly everybody benefits, absolutely everybody benefits, when more Kenyans are in working.
Lets all work towards achieving the global commitments we made in July 2018.
In conclusion can I just say thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today.
I hope you have a fantastic Christmas holiday.
Kindly do not drink and drive.
Kenya needs you more.
Happy new year 2020

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 Blind in Kenya were duped on money identification! Author Mugambi Paul

Before reading any further, close your eyes, reach into your purse or wallet and fish out 1,000 Kenyan notes.
What comes in your mind?
Can’t do it? You now know what currency discrimination feels like.

Currently, over one million blind and vision impaired Kenyans depend on someone else — a family member, friend, cashier or bank teller — to identify the
denomination of each notes for them before they can organize their money to spend themselves.
How many Blind and vision impaired persons have been duped?
The latest statistics even includes the Daughter of the head of Africa infrastructure Rose Odinga.
Furthermore, central bank of Kenya had great aspirations, but they were also duped.
To put matters into perspective the real Blind and vision impaired persons were not engaged.
Thus, lack of public participation.
who is the disability rep on the central bank of Kenya board?

I observe that, there are sighted teachers who have served in Blind schools for more than 2 decades and they don’t know braille or interest in adaptive technology.
Additionally, there are persons working in the disability sector and they don’t know what reasonable accommodation nor universal design is! This is the root course of current acceptance of mediocre leadership in the Kenyan disability sector at large.
This is also coupled with the charity-based model where the disabled person is offered a token to justify the service.
I affirm that due to this most public and private sector will claim they don’t have the capacity while they have not granted the disabled a chance.
Casing point is the employment opportunities
.
No wonder even the Blind and vision impaired persons are the most highly discriminated in job advertisement.
For example the Kenya national youth service, police and army.
Why does the Kenya society underestimate Us?
Did the Kenyan blind and vision impaired Peak bodies speak out?
Did the any human rights body speak out?
The jury is outside.

During the Madaraka 2019 what the Blind and the vision impaired persons were meant to celebrate the newfound love of government commitment to accessibility as per the constitution
2010 and the UNCRPD on matters universal design was not achieved.
Although we got a token of the cash notes having different colours.

I know some of you will justify that we the “Blind and vision impaired” should accept the token.
This is not going to happen.
I foresee the Blind and vision impaired persons arising and demanding for better access of the money identification.
The small bit done for different notes on colour is highly appreciated.
The Central bank of Kenya should realize the advantage of accessible cash it’s not for the blind only, but it will assist the highly tech young persons, veterans and those facing eye problems.
As public scholar and my passion for advocacy I have evidently seen how the engagement of persons of concerns makes policy implementation easier.
Its now upon the central bank of Kenya and the blind sector to ensure we have accessible notes through consultations.
Can the real Blind and vision impaired persons stand up?
The central bank of Kenya needs to include a disability research component in its works.
Will the 2 Kenyan sleeping giants in the blindness sector arise and stand to be counted?

All in all, I opine, the blindness and vision impaired system in Kenya doesn’t just need to be ‘reformed’. It needs to be broken down, dissected, & re-built from the ground, up.
This will happen when the Kenyan Blind and vision impaired persons unite and have a common voice!

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.

“Open letter to the Newly NCPWD chair” Mugambi Paul

“Open letter to the NCPWD chair”
Mugambi Paul

This letter is sent to our newly Chair of the NCpwd:
Dear sir,
Kenyan persons with disabilities
want the same opportunities as everyone else in the community – somewhere to work, somewhere to live, somewhere to enjoy the company
of family and friends, the chance to follow their passions and interests. We want NCPWD that makes these things possible – not stands in their way.

Using the ideas that have been collected for the last 15 years.
I have come up with the three C’s: three useful targets to help get the NCPWD
back on track. 1. Control

Kenyan persons with disabilities must be in the driver’s seat. It is their experience and their views that must determine priorities and drive change. Choice and
control must not be undermined or restricted by poor policies and processes.
For instance, it should no longer be business as usual for the Blind and vision impaired persons to receive brailed version of vision 2030 after a decade when it was out.

No disabled representative is at the building bridge initiative! Persons with disabilities must be empowered by their experience in the NCPWD, not further disempowered
and marginalised. And above all we want good outcomes for everyone –not just those who are educated, or well-resourced or who have an advocate.

So how do we make this happen?
list of 5 items
• Quicker, simpler and easier processes. Simple and plain communication that is easy to understand, more so for persons with developmental disabilities and Deafblind etc

• More help for people, families and carers at every stage of the process including application for assistance, peer support and advocacy

• Fully functioning and fit for purpose IT system that works for both consumers and producers of disability services at the county and national levels.
participants and providers

• Focused and resourced attention on groups who need more support – such as those with complex needs, severe disabled persons, Blind and those who have never been hard.

• More staff to clear backlogs. And competent well-trained staff with the right experience and expertise
Additionally, a 51 per cent disability employment target across all levels of the NCPWD including senior leadership. Currently
just 25 per cent of the NCPWD workforce have a disability.
Furthermore, on the public service I believe more needs to be done to stop the disability community
being shut out of public sector jobs
.
The 5 % has the target did not go far enough, given the consistent decline of employees with disability
in the sector.
According to public service survey 2015 Kenya has not yet achieved even 1 % target of employment opportunities to persons with disabilities.
I opine that targets needed to be supported by a comprehensive strategy to address the “unacceptably low” employment rates of people with disability
across the APS and in mainstream employment more generally.
A Kenyan National Jobs Plan to fix systemic problems that people with disability face finding and keeping a job.

This plan would include measures to strengthen the transition of young people with disability from school into tertiary education and mainstream jobs,
and would integrate with the social security system to support people with episodic disability moving in and out of employment.
Moreover, a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach is needed to enable employers to create meaningful, flexible and inclusive employment, make workplaces
more accessible, remove discrimination and build positive employer and community attitudes.

2. Certainty

Persons with disabilities, their families and carers want to know the NCPWD will be there for them when they need it. Those who have made applications want to know
services will be there when and how they need them. And for those who do not have an assistances, other programs and services must continue. No one should be left
without support because Kenyan government can’t get it together.
Instructively, Kenya has been on top from the global disability forums that no one should be left behind.
So how do we make this happen?
list of 5 items
• Full funding should be enshrined in the upcoming national and county budgets and persons with disabilities 2019 bill

• Active support and intervention to make sure people have a diverse range of quality services to choose from. Intervene early to prevent failure and lock
in crisis support so no-one falls through the cracks

• Independently let NCPWD become policy formulator and a facilitator instead of an implementor.
For instance, immediate action on the way NCPWD works with other systems like health, justice and transport. All levels of government must sit down and work out how to synchronize services instead of making disabled persons to suffer.

• Greater develop and resource of the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building program. This will ensure NCPWD funds the disability persons organization to further efforts of advocacy instead of fighting each other.

• New timeframes for entry into the NCPWD, plant and equipment approvals and plan reviews;

• More help for people to navigate the NCPWD and get their assistance plans into action including more support for advocacy; and

• Targeted outreach for people who require additional support such as children, people who are Blind, psychosocial support and or Culturally or
Diverse backgrounds.
list end
but also initiate or restoration of other programs and services
that support people with disability, their families and carers
list end this should be reflected in the county and national levels.

3. Community

The NCPWD was never intended to work in isolation. The gap in life outcomes between those with a disability and those without will never close without action
in all areas of life – employment, health, education and transport are all areas that need immediate action.

So how do we make this happen?
list of 3 items
• Greater attention and resourcing to the Kenyan National Disability Strategy

• Immediate action on employment, education, housing, transport and health. Targets must be set – and met.
More so the big four agenda.

• An immediate timeline for a board of trusty’s actions in issuance of
funding

I observe that All across the country persons with disabilities
, their families and carers and people who work in the sector have been holding formal and informal forums in the social media, mainstream media and public forums. events and coming together to demand
urgent change.
Obviously, many policy makers know what’s need to be fixed but they aren’t doing so.
As the chair you need to listen to us. After all, people with disability and their families know what is and what is not working when it comes to the NCPWD –
and we know how best to fix it.
Scholars and researchers have recommended
The disability persons organizations should join together with a government and work collaboratively so we can get the ncpwd working well for everyone who needs it.
This is very true in many countries.
NCPW is a body mandated to promote and protect equalization of opportunities and realization of human rights for disabled persons in Kenya to live dignified live.
as a public policy scholar, I affirm that and There is no question that when the NCPWD works it absolutely changes lives. We see its life-changing power every day. But, for too many people, the NCPWD
is not working well. It is too complex and too bureaucratic – and as a result some people are falling through the cracks while others are missing out altogether,
we know of some truly heartbreaking stories of people who are really being let down by the NCPWD. There are people with disability waiting two years
for a wheelchair, there are persons with disabilities waiting for the disability card for 7 months, there are blind persons awaiting a braille display but told to have a white cane etc
There are families pushed to breaking point without essential support for their child. There are people hospitalised as a direct result
of the stress of trying to work their way through a bureaucratic nightmare.

“Situations such as these cannot be allowed to continue. That is why, today I have written this letter. calling on the new chair to
listen to persons with disability and commit to getting the NCPWD working the way it should – the way it is mandated in respect to the UNCRPD, SDG and the Kenyan constitution.

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.