BY NAOMI SHABAN
My attention has been drawn to an article that was published on a local daily last week which alleged that the Ministry is ‘sitting’ on millions of shillings set aside as monthly stipend for Kenyans with mental disabilities.
In response to the said article, I wish to state that in his budget speech for 2009/2010 Financial Year read in Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance allocated the following funds to the Ministry in respect to this subject matter:
1) Sh200 million for persons with disabilities as interest-free revolving fund, and
2) Sh200 million as cash transfer to elderly persons of over 65 years and those mentally challenged.
The current allocation (2010/2011 Financial Year) for the two programmes is Sh200 million and Sh530 million respectively.
The allocation of the cash transfer supports older persons including older persons with all form of disabilities without discrimination. Similarly, the allocation for persons with disabilities caters for all categories of persons with disabilities without discrimination. This is the position the Ministry has taken and continues to apply with the roll-out of the programmes.
Since the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities (NDFPWDs) was set up in the 2009/2010 Financial Year, it has funded different categories of disabilities including persons with mental disabilities in accordance with the functions stated in the Act. The funds have mainly gone towards:
1. Funding groups of persons with disabilities for enterprise development, including parents of persons with mental disabilities,
2. Infrastructure development within learning institutions and purchase of other learning equipment,
3. Provision of assistive and supportive devices for persons with disabilities, and
4. Education sponsorship for needy persons with disabilities.
Linked to this Fund, many organisations and institutions dealing with persons with mental disabilities have been supported namely:
1. Kenya Association for the Intellectually Handicapped,
2. Lutheran School for the Mental Handicapped,
3. Cerebral Palsy Society of Kenya,
4. Autism Society of Kenya, and
5. Other institutions catering for persons with mental disabilities across the country such as: Wire, Ogande, Busilwa, among others.
The Board of Trustees (BOT) that manages the Fund continues to receive and process various applications for funding coming from various organisations and institutions across the country.
The Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped (KSMH or simply referred to as the Society in this statement) applied for funding of Sh14 million mainly to cater for recurrent items in February 2010 when the Fund was still establishing itself to commence operations. In August 2010, the Fund responded and allocated Sh1 million for parents of children and adults with mental disabilities as a revolving fund among themselves, advising that they review their proposal in line with the set guidelines and resubmit. The Society rejected the Kshs.1 Million and has never resubmitted a reviewed funding request to date.
On the other hand, the Ministry implemented the cash transfer programme for older persons in 44 districts across the country, covering 33,000 households (i.e. 750 households per district). Older persons with disabilities are part of the programme as earlier mentioned. In this programme, a monthly stipend of Sh1, 500/= is granted but disbursed on a bi-monthly basis.
Additionally the Ministry runs another cash transfer programme for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Similarly, in this programme, a monthly stipend of Sh1, 500/= is granted to beneficiaries but disbursed on bi-monthly basis.
Since 2009/2010 Financial Year, the Ministry has had engagements and discussions with stakeholders including parents of children and adults with mental disabilities over support to persons with severe disabilities. In these consultations various concerns have been raised and dealt with. This has culminated into a proposal to set up a separate cash transfer programme targeting persons with severe disabilities. Section 33 of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003, provides that funds from the NDFPWDs may be utilised to support persons with severe disabilities who are not trainable in any skill and have no other source of income.
It is important to note that persons with severe disabilities as per Ministry’s guidelines, refers to those who need permanent care which includes but not limited to feeding, toiletry, hygienic, grooming, among others needs that may be necessary. This programme will include persons with mental disabilities most of whom require constant care.
This new initiative is to be rolled out in the last quarter of current 2010/2011 Financial Year after a consultative forum scheduled for April 2011 to brief the stakeholder on the programme. The initiative will cover 10 beneficiaries (households) in each of the 210 constituencies in Kenya as currently set up. It will provide a monthly stipend of Sh1, 500/= for every beneficiary like the other cash transfer programme that the Ministry runs.
The NDFPWDs (the Fund) has only operated for one financial year (2009/2010) and is now in the second year (2010/2011). The Ministry in consultation with the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Fund will review the disbursement guidelines to take into consideration the Constituencies’ allocation.
My Ministry is committed towards supporting the poor and the most vulnerable members of our society including persons with disabilities. This will be done through the various programmes in place and those in the pipeline. The Ministry therefore does not intend to discriminate programmes by types of disabilities as we may end up with many Funds whose coordination becomes a challenge.
In addition, the Ministry remains committed and are open to work with all Organisations of and for persons with disabilities. My appeal therefore to the Society (KSMH) is to work closely with the Ministry and other disabled persons organizations for the common good of all persons with disabilities.
The demonstration being championed by the society will expose persons with mental disabilities to unnecessarily stress and danger. Attempts to abandon children and adults with mental disabilities during this demonstration are against the law and will be handled as such.
With the preceding clarification, it is my conviction that it is not necessary for the society to continue with this confrontational approach in addressing issues that touch on persons with mental disabilities. We at the Ministry are not ‘sitting’ on any of these funds as alleged by the society. All funds allocated to the Ministry are disbursed through clearly spelt out criteria, and is subject to public scrutiny.
(DR Naomi Shaban is the Minister for gender, children and social development)