NAIROBI, May 22 – A State commissioned interim survey released Wednesday indicated that 1.6 million Kenyans are People With Disabilities (PWD).
This differs from the World Health Organization estimates of 10 percent in any population which would have translated to 3.5 million Kenyans living with handicaps.
Worldwide it is estimated that 650 million people live with some form of disability, of which 200 million are children.
“Surveys conducted in 55 countries have given a prevalence of between 0.2 percent to a high of 21 percent of PWD,” noted Planning Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth, during the release of the first ever Disabilities National Survey.
He said of the population living with disabilities in Kenya, 25,600 have physical disabilities, the highest recorded form of disability.
“This is followed by visual disability at 1.4 percent, hearing at 0.5 percent and mental disability at 0.3 percent,” he added.
Kenneth said the figures would assist the Government in policy formulation and decision making that would address issues of PWD.
“However a final report will be out by August,” he revealed.
The report also indicated that a higher percentage of males with disabilities had access to devices like walking sticks, wheel chairs and interpreters compared to their female counterparts.
Kenneth said the issue would be addressed through women’s empowerment.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Kenneth also said the survey which was conducted between July and November 2007 indicated that stigma was still widespread especially in rural areas.
“The survey also looked at community perception and one of the things that came out was that there was stigma and prejudice in communities that discouraged PWD from active participation in socio-economic activities,” he said.
National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development Chief Executive Officer Dr Boniface K’Oyugi said the survey ensured equal participation of both the rural and urban population, with a total of 15,000 households selected.
A few institutions were also sampled.
A representative of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities Josephine Onyonka said with the release of the report, the Government had discounted the impression held by persons living with disabilities that there was a laxity in addressing their issues.
“It was funny how the number of wild animals in the country was known but that of persons with disabilities was not known,” she said.