Lobby demands new board for disability agency

Grace Akinyi Okumu. She cannot access services in the absence of a NCPWD board. [Phillip Orwa, Standard]
Millions of persons with disabilities are missing out on basic services due to the absence of a board of directors for the National Council of Persons with Disabilities. 

According to the Disability Organisation Caucus (DOC) the last board was dissolved 14 months ago.

“After the dissolution of the previous board of directors in May last year, we expected to see a new board immediately to work on issues of over 6.5 million persons with disabilities. We are shocked it is not in place,” said Joseph Atela, the national organising secretary of the caucus.

Mr Atela described the absence of the board as a mockery and disrespect for persons with disabilities.

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In the absence of the board, persons with disabilities have no access to vital products and services provided under the NCPWD.

“l have not been receiving sunscreen lotion. Whenever l inquire, I am told a board is not in place to pass the money to buy the lotions, sprays and gels,” says Grace Akinyi Okumu, who is living with albinism.

Essential facilities

According to the caucus, over 75 per cent of children with disabilities in the country were missing school because they could not replace essential facilities such as broken prosthetics, calipers, crutches, wheelchairs and white canes.

The caucus said it read mischief in the delay to pick a new NCPWD board

“From the signs, it is intentional and looks like someone wants to impose on us a friend or relative as chairperson of the council for their own interests. We will not accept that,” said the caucus.

A former chairman of NCPWD and now nominated MP David ole Sankok blamed vested interests for the delay, saying he voluntarily retired to pave the way for another person to lead the institution.

“I suspect they want to put their person to micro-manage disability issues for their own financial benefit,” he claimed.

According to Dr Sankok, President Uhuru Kenyatta last year ordered the gazettement of a new board. He claimed this has been frustrated by cartels in the ministry that want to control disability funds, especially administration costs and cash transfer of those with severe disabilities.

In the absence of the board, Sankok said services for persons with disabilities had ground to a halt.

“There is a loophole for corruption and no figurehead to spearhead the defence of disability rights in the country and approval of proposals for bursaries, assistive devices and infrastructure have stall,” he said.

He said in the absence of the board, the country was represented by able-bodied delegates in international forums meant for persons with disabilities, which went against the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities' theme of ‘nothing about us without us'.

The caucus gave the Cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Social Security and Services a week to gazette the board or face countrywide protests.

“The person we want as chair must ensure the procurement department follows the law, and tendering opportunities given to persons with disabilities who qualify competitively,” said Abdi Abdille Ali, a leader of the Kenya Deaf Community.

people with disabilitiesDisability Organisation Caucus