12 06 2008

Letters:

Seek to improve lives of disabled

6/11/2008 

Daily Nation

Kenya

http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=23&newsid=125084

Results of a survey of persons with disabilities carried out last year by the National Co-ordinating Agency for Population and Development have been released.

The data collected will be of no value if it is not used to remove barriers that hinder improvement of quality of the life of the disabled.

The Government has been lethargic in dealing with issues of the disabled.

One wonders whether the Government is now ready to set in motion measures that will prohibit discrimination and stigmatisation of the disabled.

Is it ready to work with the disabled themselves in solving their problems?

Despite the fact that direct nominations of persons with disabilities into institutions of governance is the only way to ascertain their inclusion in decision-making, the Government has failed to apply it.

Many persons with disabilities have, for lack of representation, been forgotten and are living in abject poverty and indignity.

The survey indicates that about 4.6 per cent –  about 1.6 million Kenyans are disabled. Now that we know their statistical number, type and nature of their disability, we have an opportunity to plan on how to address their issues.

Besides seeking to reduce poverty among them, we need to modify our transport infrastructure to accommodate them.

Some of them are on wheelchairs, are blind or use crutches and cannot run, push and shove to get into buses and matatus.

The buses have narrow doors and steep steps making it impossible for people on wheelchairs to access them.

The Persons with Disabilities Act that was signed by the President in December, 2003, has not been implemented to date though the disabled have always implored the Government to implement it.

We know that disability is a problem in our society and is not simply a disaster that needs quick remedy.

It is a serious condition that requires long-term policy, adequate regular Government financial allocations, and a consistent, focused plan of action that should result in a dignified, improved quality of life for persons with disabilities.

Billy O’Wabucheli, Chairman, Butere-Mumias Persons with Disability. 

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