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Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disability 2014

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© CBM One of CBM staff engages with visitors at the CBM Expo tent.

Sustainable Development: The promise of technology theme marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) of 2015 and the launch of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new development framework post 2015.

Sustainable Development: Beyond the limits

Despite the early morning drizzle, hundreds of excited participants turned up for the commemoration of the 2014 International Day of Persons with Disability in Kenya. This year’s celebrations took place  at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) at the heart of the capital city, Nairobi. This year’s commemoration provided an opportunity to amplify awareness of disability as a cross-cutting development issue. The theme “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology” was timely because it marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) of 2015 and the launch of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new development framework post 2015. The global theme was domesticated to adopt a more local context aptly declaring “Sustainable Development: Beyond the limits” as the national rallying call for development practise.
The day started off with entertainment by various persons with disabilities, among them Dennis Karanja aka Denno- A popular artist with visual impairment, with his song ‘Naona Mbali’ as well as the renowned long time artist, Mary Atieno, who has consistently contributed to the Kenyan music industry as a visually impaired artist.Other performers included: Daisy, the only girl who performed a song, Kipruto, Paul Mugambi ‘Mpofu number One’ and James Mugi. A short skit by members of the association of people with dwarfism in Kenya also formed part of the programme.
Speeches delivered by various stakeholders in the disability arena had one key message that resonated across, that of inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.
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Hon Isaac Mwaura(on the left), Nominated Member of Parliament and Hon. Kazungu Kambi launch the free sunscreen initiative by the Government for persons with albinism.

Nominated Member of Parliament and Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association Chairman, Hon Isaac Mwaura, who has albinism encouraged persons with disabilities to realize their full potential and ensure that they have access to services that they are entitled to by the state.’’ We want to ensure that we strengthen the parliamentary and legislative role of members of parliament and to enable them carry along the disability agenda in the parliamentary practise.’’

In his speech, the Chairman of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities Dr. David Ole Sankok, applauded the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) for the efforts it has put in ensuring that persons with disabilities’ needs are met countrywide.’’ I have put in place mechanism that will help to improve the services at the council. We recently recruited county representatives so that we can serve you better. We have also developed a National Action Plan that will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to work together in addressing the issues in disability. ’’ He said. He commended the treasury for increasing the disability kitty funds from 232 million in 2009/2010 financial year to 1.2 billion in 2014/2015 towards effective service delivery.
Hon. Yusuf Hassan, Member of Parliament for Kamukunji shared a very moving speech on how his life was changed after a grenade attack. ‘We are all candidates of disability. I was fine until an unfortunate incident occurred. I was injured in a grenade attack when visiting my constituents. One minute I was walking the next minute I was down with an injury and could not lift myself. After the incident, I was confined to a wheel chair for several months. I realized just how in a split second my whole life had changed.’’ He shared.
’’Before the accident I had no realization or psychological connection on issues of disability. I did not see or hear the plights of persons with disabilities until I had the accident and it registered in my mind the stark reality of what it is like to be disabled. I am saddened that most of our buildings are not accessible for persons with disabilities in this day and age. Not even the parliament where I work is accessible. I could not use the toilet because I was on a wheelchair and it was not accessible. It was tough especially if I had to be in parliament the whole day.’’ He added.

Post-2015 development framework

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Kirstin Bostelmann, Regional Director CBM East Africa addressing the participants on behalf of disability development partners.

In a speech representing the sentiments of disability development agencies, CBM East Africa Regional Director, Kirstin Bostelmann highlighted the remarkable steps that disability organizations have achieved towards inclusion of persons with disability, ’’The international disability movement achieved an extraordinary step in 2006 with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is a result of decades of work by persons with disabilities and their supporters to change attitudes and approaches to disability that ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities. The development agencies realize that in order to achieve equality for and participation, all persons with disabilities must be included in the development processes and more importantly the new emerging post 2015 development framework.’’ she declared.
She also commended the Government for the good work in the steps towards addressing the disability agenda in the country. ‘As development partners we celebrate Article 54 of the Kenya Constitution which has substantive provisions for the rights of persons with disabilities and their entitlements. Early in the year, several development partners gathered in Maanzoni Lodge to deliberate the inclusion of persons with disability in Africa in the Post 2015 sustainable development goals that resulted in four key recommendation to all governments to ensure that persons with disabilities are included in all relevant future goals, targets and indicators in line with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities,’’ She said.
She urged the government to support the Maanzoni Declaration to fruition by allocating enough resources to the development framework to ensure that persons with disabilities have all public services to achieve their full potential in life.

Mainstreaming and intergration of persons with disabilities

Paul Mugambi ‘Mpofu number One' performing with the Chief Guest Hon Kazungu(In blindfold and white cane) at the event

Paul Mugambi ‘Mpofu number One’ performing with the Chief Guest Hon Kazungu(In blindfold and white cane) at the event

Hon. Kazungu Kambi, Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services , in his speech stated that the government is putting a lot of measures in place for persons with disabilities in the country. ”About 1.3 million people have some form of disability in Kenya. This is a significant proportion that should not be left out of the development process. The government is committed to mainstreaming and integrating all these people in the core of national development. They should enjoy equally rights and participation in society as envisioned in the Chapter four in the Constitution of 2010 on the Bill of human rights. Kenya is among the countries that has signed and ratified United Nations CRPD. This convention spells out the rights of persons with disabilities in the world.’’ He said.
”The govt will strengthen the National Council to enable it carry its mandate effectively by increasing its funds allocation and ensuring that enhanced collaboration with at grass root level to include county governments is realized for economic empowerment.  We will also soon launch and roll out a document on Promoting the mainstreaming of Disability in Development Policy. We will ensure that an affirmative action of allocating 30% of all government tenders to vulnerable groups of women, youth and persons with disabilities is put in place and a law passed to this effect.  We will also have disability mainstreaming in the performance indicators in all government ministries.’’ He added.

New technologies

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Dr. Rono using the PEEK mobile technology to check Mr. Harun Hassan’s eyes.

The highlight of the day was the showcase of new technologies such as PEEK (Portable Eye Examination Kit), the first mobile technology application for testing and detecting eye ailment which was unveiled by Dr. Hillary Rono. The application is under review and will be rolled out early next year. Dr. Rono is an Ophthalmologist in Kitale and a beneficiary of the CBM Scholarship programme. Other new technologies that were also showcased at the exhibitors’ forum are the Kenya Sign Language Finger Spelling application on Google play store that was shared with the public. The Kenyan Sign Language Fingerspelling is an Android app that enable Deaf and Hearing people to learn and practice fingerspelling from A to Z Alphabet. The app helps them to improve their receptive fingerspelling skills.
To end the day, the government officially launched free sun screen distribution programme for persons with albinism and also commissioned 90 graduates who are now certified Kenya Sign Language interpreters.
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