NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – A report launched by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday revealed that Kenya lacks an adequate legal framework for persons living with disabilities.
Felicia Mburu, the researcher of the study in which Mandera and Taita Taveta were the case studies explained that due to the legal inconsistencies, persons with disabilities are denied basic services.
“Our laws are biased against persons living with disabilities. A blind person cannot just go and open an account, they must have a co-signatory. We strip away their autonomy to be heard. We tend to assume that persons with disability do not have the autonomy to make their own decisions,” she explained.
The study further revealed that such persons were also disadvantaged from taking part in democratic processes such as voting or vying for elective positions because they are considered incapable or cannot make their own decisions.
Mburu cited cases in which persons living with disability languish in poverty and without access to most basic services such as health and education.
According to the findings, Kenya also lacks a proper data system of persons living with disabilities.
Though it is a requirement supported by law that the country should have a workable data system of persons with disabilities, Mburu found that most of them had not been registered to an extent that officers charged with that duty were not aware of the registration procedure.
“There is really no date. Persons with disabilities are actually forgotten in the system. When we went to the county government, but you will find the council officers were not receiving adequate support to actually carry out their job. Most of them were not quite informed exactly how they were supposed to record this data,” she recounted.
Though the government has set aside a kitty for persons living with disabilities, most of them have never benefited from the fund due to unreliable data.
“People with disability are not even aware of the fund,” Mburu explained pointing out that one of the requirements will be for the country to engage in an awareness campaign to ensure special persons know what is rightfully theirs.
Mburu pointed at gaps in the law governing accessibility of the funds in consideration that some of the people with disabilities have mental challenges which cuts them out from accessing the fund directly.
According to KNCHR Commissioner Shatikha Chivusia, a report done between 2012 and 2014 in 13 counties, researchers found that the social protection fund that every person living with disability is supposed to receive Sh2,000 on a monthly basis was either never received or was received late.
“In some cases the funds came but were never released to the intended person. There is obviously an issue concerning access to the funds.”
In order to address challenges facing persons with disabilities, the research recommended for law and policy reforms, awareness campaigns, proper data collection and coordination between government agencies handling matters of special people.