Groups call for the protection of people with disabilities in Kenya

Two organizations working on behalf of people with disabilities in Kenya on Thursday called on the government to put in place social safety nets to protect them from COVID-19-related disorders such as loss of income.

Anderson Gitonga, executive director of United Disabled Persons of Kenya, said the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the physically challenged population and needs to be offered social protection.

“The government should ensure that measures and interventions to contain the spread of the virus are adapted for people with disabilities,” Gitonga said in a statement in Nairobi.

People with disabilities struggle with lost income amid COVID-19 restrictions that include lockdowns, Gitonga said, noting that the disruption of essential health services had a negative impact on this vulnerable group of people.

Gitonga said physically disabled citizens have lost income-generating activities due to the pandemic, a scenario that has escalated their poverty and their inability to meet basic needs such as food, shelter and health care. Stimulus packages aimed at cushioning the poor from the negative effects of the pandemic should take into account the mental health and food security of people with disabilities.

According to the 2019 census, around 2.2 percent of the Kenyan population, or 0.9 million people, live with some forms of disability while the government has taken positive action to address their plight.

Kenya is one of the African countries that have adopted progressive legal and political frameworks to promote the well-being of disabled people through equal access to education, work, housing and health care.

Benson Kiptum, acting CEO of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya, said COVID-19 has scaled back profits in key areas like gainful employment and access to basic services like health, clean water and shelter.

“The current income disorder is putting an increased burden on people with disabilities,” Kiptum said, insisting that remote working for disabled people during the COVID-19 era was a mirage due to a lack of tools.

He added that households with disabled people are struggling with dwindling savings as the pandemic increased spending on basic food, clothing and transportation.

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