Generally, PWDs are usually among the most vulnerable people as they face considerable barriers to education, employment, social protection, health care, social and community engagement, information, and other opportunities and services. Because of this inequality of opportunity, most PWDs have lower educational attainment, worse health outcomes, fewer economic opportunities, and less access to public services compared to people without disabilities. The barriers to accessing formal employment push PWDs to work in the informal sector, especially in hawking businesses, shoe mending and such like businesses. Additionally, the caregivers of PWDs are particularly vulnerable due to caring responsibilities, costs of care, and lower workforce participation, and it gets worse if such households are headed by single parents, mostly women.
The rights of PWDs are enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution but the isolation and discrimination experienced by PWDs push some families to confine them to their homes to shield them from negative perceptions and sociocultural beliefs, meaning that children cannot access schools and the adults cannot participate in meaningful activities in society.
A baseline survey done in FY 2018/2019 by Kakamega County’s Department of Economic Planning to establish the population and socio-economic status of persons living with disability (PWDs) put it at 19,000 PWDs, with 18,000 households having at least one person with a disability. The survey identified gaps in PWD support, which led to the
The survey not only helped in identifying persons with varying impairments such as hearing, visual, physical, albinism, and cerebral palsy but also in guiding the County in making mainstream and targeted provisions in the budget to address PWD needs as guided by the social protection policies in Kenya.
Majority of the most vulnerable PWDs were in rural areas where poverty levels are high and the terrain poses a challenge for the physically-challenged PWDs, and they could not afford therapy. Persons with albinism could not afford to see a dermatologist or buy sunscreen lotions. Equally, the hearing-impaired could not afford to pay for hearing aids.
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