A person with a disability is an individual who has physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. Disabilities can vary in type and severity, and they may affect a person's mobility, hearing, vision, communication, cognition, or mental health. People with disabilities often face numerous challenges in their daily lives, including barriers to education, employment, transportation and accessibility. According to an article published by Deutsche Welle(DW) on Why Africa’s Physically Challenged Remain Invisible, millions of African people living with disabilities remain invisible despite laws that call for inclusion and equality. In certain communities, individuals with disabilities are unfortunately often perceived as bringing curses, bad luck, or seen as a form of divine punishment directed at their parents and relatives who may be deemed unjust. To shield their children from the stigma associated with disability, many parents choose to isolate them from the outside world, depriving them of educational opportunities and social interactions.The County Government of Wajir has 1,780 registered people living with a disability. Amongst these individuals are parents who were either born with disabilities or faced circumstances such as accidents that resulted in immobility and loss of jobs. However, despite these challenges, they continue to bear the responsibility of providing for their families. Individuals with disabilities encounter shared obstacles, including the absence of necessary assistive equipment and devices that would enable them to lead normal lives.
To empower individuals with disabilities, the County Government of Wajir has established a disability fund aimed at providing financial support to the disabled community. Through this initiative, a cash transfer of Ksh 4,000 is made to individuals with disabilities, enabling them to address their daily challenges. Additionally, the program also facilitates the provision of assistive devices to assist them in overcoming various obstacles they may encounter in their daily lives.
Implementation of the practice
The County Government initiated the cash transfer program, in the 2014/15 financial year, initially benefiting 175 individuals. During that period, a total of 300 persons with disabilities were registered. However, the selection process for the cash transfer program was based on the level of vulnerability. To prioritize those in greater need, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds were given precedence over those from more affluent backgrounds. As a result, six members were chosen from each ward, ensuring representation from various areas while focusing on supporting the most vulnerable individuals with disabilities. In 2019 the number of beneficiaries had increased to 208 members. Under the program, a monthly transfer of Ksh 4,000 per person was provided, directly deposited into their bank accounts. To facilitate this, the County Government collaborated with Equity Bank to ensure that accounts were opened for all beneficiaries. Additionally, to make the withdrawal process more convenient, agents were stationed in every ward, enabling beneficiaries to access their funds without having to travel to the main bank branch.
Furthermore, recognizing the diverse preferences and geographical challenges faced by some individuals, the County introduced a direct mobile transfer option. This allows beneficiaries who prefer Mpesa or reside in remote areas to receive their funds directly on their mobile. This program was established based solely on the political goodwill of the County leadership and no legislative backing.
However, in the subsequent three fiscal years (2017/18 to 2019/20), the program faced stagnation, prompting the need for formal legislation. In response, the County Government of Wajir collaborated with the World Food Programme (WFP) to engage experts and develop a Bill in 2019. Due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bill was eventually passed as the Wajir County Disability Act in 2021.
To comply with the Act, the County Government has taken significant measures. The funding allocated to the cash transfer program has been increased from Ksh 14 million to Ksh 40 million. For sustainability, a regulation to operationalize the Act was passed and officially gazetted in January 2023. Currently, the County Government is conducting a comprehensive registration process with the aim of recording all People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the County.
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