NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – President Mwai Kibaki has said that the government will empower people living with disabilities to enable them lead decent lives.,
The President noted that the government was keen on partnering with civil society organisations, NGOs, churches and other stakeholders to assist people living with disabilities to make their contribution towards national development.
The Head of State made the assurances at his Harambee Office on Monday when he met and held discussions with the board of trustees of the National Fund for the Disabled of Kenya.
President Kibaki promised that the government would explore means of enhancing the Fund’s capital base to benefit an estimated four million people living with disabilities in the country.
Among the ways the government would ensure that more disabled people are assisted include allocation of a portion of land for the construction of an ultra-modern building to house the Fund’s secretariat, which would be rented out for commercial purposes.
“This will boost its income currently generated through other commercial buildings owned by the Fund,” said the Head of State.
The President also pledged that the government would consider a budgetary allocation to boost the Fund’s kitty so that it can have a bigger impact on the lives of the disabled.
Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Kristina Pratt, was assured by the President that the government would facilitate a special census to determine the exact number of people living with disabilities in the country.
President Kibaki further supported a recommendation by the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Development, Esther Murugi that all government departments that handle issues of the disabled be harmonised to avoid a duplication of effort as well as the haphazard implementation of policies.
Presently, matters touching on the disabled are handled by various ministries among them Gender, Children and Social Development, Education, Health and Home Affairs.
“There is need to categorise and classify the disabled to determine the severity of disability as well as the level of need for assistance,” said Minister Murugi.
The Head of State meanwhile commended the board for its service to disadvantaged members of the society and promised them of his government’s support.
During the occasion, Mrs Pratt presented the President with reports of audited accounts and donation programmes implemented in various districts in the country.
The Fund owns two commercial buildings in the city, which form the bulk of its capital among other fundraising activities that enable it to raise an annual income of Sh40 million out of which fifty percent benefits disabled people directly.
The Fund offers varied forms of assistance to individuals, groups of disabled people or institutions that take care of them.
Individual benefits include cash donations, equipment such as wheelchairs, tri-cycles, sewing machines, salon equipment, leather and carpentry tool kits, while groups get posho mills and ploughs, and institutions get support in form of training equipment, computers and construction of classes or pavements for wheelchairs.