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
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 [.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.