Interest groups call for better protection of persons with disabilities in Kenya amid COVID-19
Two organizations working for the interest of people with disabilities in Kenya on Thursday called on the government to roll out social safety nets aimed at shielding them from COVID-19 related disruptions like income losses.
Anderson Gitonga, executive director of United Disabled Persons of Kenya, said the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the physically challenged population hence the need to provide them with social protection.
"The government should make sure that measures and interventions made to control the spread of the virus are adapted for persons with disabilities," Gitonga said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Persons with disabilities are grappling with income losses amid COVID-19 restrictions that include lockdowns, Gitonga said, noting that disruption of essential health services impacted negatively on this vulnerable group of people.
According to Gitonga, physically disabled citizens have lost income-generating activities due to the pandemic, a scenario that has escalated their poverty levels and inability to meet basic needs like food, shelter and healthcare. Stimulus packages aimed at cushioning the poor from adverse impacts of the pandemic should factor the mental health and food security of persons with disabilities.
About 2.2 percent of Kenyan population, or 0.9 million people, live with some forms of disability based on the 2019 census, while the government has leveraged affirmative action to address their plight.
Kenya is among African countries that have enacted progressive legal and policy frameworks to promote the welfare of disabled persons through equal access to education, jobs, housing and healthcare.
Benson Kiptum, acting CEO of Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya, said that COVID-19 rolled back their gains in key areas like gainful employment and access to essential services like health, clean water and shelter.
"The current disruption in income represents an increased burden for persons with disabilities," said Kiptum, insisting that remote work during COVID-19 era has been a mirage for disabled persons amid lack of assistive devices.
He added that households with disabled persons have grappled with dwindling savings as the pandemic increased expenditure on basic items like food, clothing and transport.