The END of YEAR season not only gives us the opportunity to make merry, but to also reflect and take stock of the year experienced, at a personal and institutional level.
Due to the adverse effects of the Corona Pandemic, budgetary constraints experienced presented operational challenges. With the ballooning demand for services in the face of strained resources, our commitment to deliver as per our huge mandate remains a steady effort.
𝟏𝟐 𝐊𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐝𝐞:
𝟏. The Council initiated a myriad of strategies to improve its communication with our clients. From regular updates on our social channels, to releasing our first digital 𝑈𝑠𝑎𝑤𝑎 𝑛𝑎 𝐻𝑎𝑘𝑖 newsletter, meant to inform the public of the Council’s activities. The Council also launched a new website, enabling clients to apply for services from the comfort of their digital devices. We are working to ensure a proper and seamless synchronization of these online applications with our internal processes at the national and county offices.
– Also, our advocacy efforts with other stakeholders yielded numerous dividends, with the biggest being the Highest office in the land attending the December 3rd Disability Day – a positive sign of government’s awareness and commitment on disability issues.
– We also constituted a team to handle inquiries and complaints, but remain challenged by its lean nature, other duties assigned and freeze on new hirings, hence some inquiries end up unattended. The Council will continue seeking innovative ways of solving such logistical challenges.
𝟐. On registration, 𝟐𝟑,𝟓𝟔𝟖 persons with disabilities have been registered during this calendar year. This is amid budgetary and personnel constraints which put brakes on efforts to conduct mass registration drives. However, with the launch of the new registration system by His Excellency the President early this month, we have formed a taskforce whose goal will be to provide the roadmap for the recall of the current cards, and the migration from the old system to the new system come next year.
𝟑. On disability mainstreaming, the Council is aware that there is a lot to be done. Despite disability being put as an indicator in the Performance Contract of state agencies, experiences by persons with disabilities point to this good intention having being reduced to a matter of merely ticking boxes. We therefore kickstarted the process of reviewing the disability mainstreaming training modules, by including stakeholders versed on disability issues to inform the development of the new curriculum. The draft modules are already in place, and will be subjected to fresh scrutiny with stakeholders such as the Kenya School of Government come next year.
𝟒. Tax exemption for persons with disabilities is an exercise done in partnership with the Kenya Revenue Authority and Ministry of Health. This year, about 𝟑,𝟏𝟒𝟎 persons with disabilities were recommended for tax exemption. This was made successful through a nationwide vetting exercise conducted in September to clear a backlog of over 2,000 cases. We also introduced new legal checks to curb fraudulent tax exemption recommendations, and also hosted a virtual Open Day to educate all on matters taxation and persons with disabilities.
𝟓. The strategic plan of an institution shapes its focus and priorities. The Council kickstarted the review of the current 2018-2022 strategic plan, and also undertook a stakeholder validation spearheaded by Disabled Persons Organizations. The new strategic plan will be unveiled next year once a newly constituted Board okays it.
𝟔. In order to tackle the issues faced by persons with disabilities, the Council, as a state agency, cannot tackle these problems alone. The contribution of Disabled Persons Organizations cannot be ignored. To facilitate advocacy and awareness efforts of DPOs, the Council financially supported 𝟒𝟓 DPOs to mark disability calendar activities. We will continue working and consulting with DPOs to ensure our policies and activities are in sync with the needs on the ground.
𝟕. For children with disabilities, education is the greatest equalizer in a competitive and increasingly evolving world. A total 𝟒,𝟎𝟒𝟕 children received support in the form of bursaries and scholarships. We also transitioned from bursaries to FULL SCHOLARSHIPS for the current Form 1 and 2 students (𝟔𝟓𝟐). To address the plight of those who miss out on getting the assistance (which approximates at a third of all applicants), the Council constituted a committee headed by the Ministry of Education to identify how to address the barriers experienced by children with disabilities and those of parents with disabilities from vulnerable backgrounds in accessing education.
𝟖. To promote independent living, 𝟏,𝟐𝟗𝟏 persons with disabilities received a myriad of assistive devices. To address the huge need of these devices, the Council’s Resource Mobilization Department is tirelessly identifying potential partners for support. A recent success is the signing of an MOU with World Vision, in which 𝟏𝟒𝟕 children with cerebral palsy from Makueni, Kajiado and Nairobi Counties received special seats, in the first phase of the agreement. We are hopeful that similar partners of goodwill will come onboard in the coming year.
𝟗. To promote the use of sign language in public institutions, the Council entered into a partnership with the Kenya Institute of Special Education for a sign language program to train 𝟑𝟓𝟎 public workers across eight centres namely Kericho, Nairobi, Isiolo, Machakos, Voi, Kitale, Kisii and Nyeri at no cost. Availability of sign language services in public offices is crucial in achieving the goal of leaving no one behind in our national development agenda.
𝟏𝟎. Access to justice for persons with disabilities remains a challenge. Through the Legal Department, the Council held its first set of regional legal aid clinics (Nairobi and Mombasa) to offer legal advice and services to persons with disabilities. 𝟏𝟗𝟔 clients were served. These clinics have informed the need to have a proper referral system, to be forwarding cases beyond our scope for the attention of partners skilled in various legal areas.
𝟏𝟏. On economic empowerment, the Council recently entered into a fund management agreement with KCB Bank Kenya Ltd for the LPO Financing Programme, a fund which had been suspended due to many defaulters and weak administrative issues. As earlier communicated, guidance on how to apply will be communicated next year. Additionally, 𝟐𝟓𝟔 tools of trade which had not been issued in the last financial year were also dispatched.
𝟏𝟐. A countrywide retargeting exercise for the Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer Programme was carried out to reinstate 12,464 beneficiaries who were previously benefitting from the cash transfer programme, but had been left out due to erroneous data. The process is ongoing, with the goal of achieving the 47,000 mark of persons with severe disabilities fully onboarded and receiving their monthly payments.
Internally, the Council continues to make efforts in increasing efficiency in service delivery for all amid challenges in resources, despite a shortage of staff (operating at 38 percent of the expected workforce). At the county level, we have increased support to ensure our disability services officers deliver services in the best, humanely way possible – some working in extremely vast areas and others highly populated.
The Council is thankful to the current Chairperson Peter Muchiri, the former Board and current Board of Trustees for their commitment and leadership in forming resolutions that informed our activities. Thanks to also our partners and stakeholders in the disability sector and beyond for your support and goodwill.
For every statistic and development made, there are workers in the Council’s Management who engage with integrity tirelessly in routine meetings, back-and-forth grind under high pressure in an effort to make things a little bit better. The Council appreciates them immensely. In the same breadth, for every statistic given, there is a much bigger figure of persons left out who are yet to receive the services they rightfully deserve. We will remain steadfast in ensuring that our quality of service gets better.
Have a wonderful holiday and a blessed 2021.
HARUN M. HASSAN