By Rehema Charo
Persons living with disabilities will soon get assistance and cushioned from the perennial marginalisation in education, health and access to information following a new disability mainstreaming policy.
Some 20,000 persons living with disabilities in Mombasa County have for decades suffered from discrimination due to lack of proper legislation to protect their human rights.
However, the County Assembly members in collaboration with Dream Achievers Youth Organization (DAYO), and the national council of persons with disability are in the process of making a new law that when passed will end the untold suffering.
National Council for Persons with Disability coordinator Juliet Ruwa, speaking to members of County Assembly on November 20, 2023, said the law if enacted would be a game changer in mainstreaming PLWDs.
“Many families have ensured discriminatory prejudice and stigma due to their status of disability, we are trying to end this once and for all, once this law is enacted it will mainstream all their affairs and a guiding plan for dealing with all their affairs.”
DAYO executive officer Seif Jira said the county government had been unable to allocate enough resources to meet the needs of marginalised groups when the new law comes into effect.
“We have pulled all stakeholders together in developing the Mombasa policy because we don’t want to leave everyone behind,” Jira said during the meeting convened by (DAYO) and funded by Network for Adolescence and Youth of Africa (NAYA).
Due to the delay of such a law, Jira regrets some key laws on disabled persons had seen the county discriminate against them during budgetary making processes.
“The budgetary allocation for the disability sector should be increased so as to establish more rehabilitation units in public health facilities for persons acquiring disabilities at adulthood, additional economic empowerment programs among other programmes.”
The proposed law seeks to push for data collections of the population, ensure friendly infrastructure in all public and private facilities, ensure sign language interpreters are placed in public facilities like hospitals as well as advocate for increased resources for the larger population.
Members of the County Assembly led by the disability representative in the county assembly Solomon Wainaina Mwangi vowed to pass the bill into a law when it comes before them for the benefits of the larger disability groups.
“When this law is brought to us in the assembly, we will pass it because we know what it means to the vulnerable population. We have had challenges of passing budgets to them because there is no law that captures the real data of the persons living with disability in Mombasa,” said Wainaina.
On her part, Moraa Ngare, an MCA, welcomed the law saying it would improve the welfare of the persons with disability.
The bill is currently at the public participation stage where parties are giving their views.
The policy was developed by DAYO in collaboration with key disability stakeholders in Mombasa county, with a mission to ensure complete mainstreaming of the vulnerable population in Mombasa county affairs.
If enacted, the law will ensure all buildings in the county have ramps; all public facilities like hospitals or schools will employ sign language interpreters as well as ensure appointment of disabled persons in positions of leadership.