Baseline Survey – Engagement of Persons with Disabilities




Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are amongst the most marginalised groups and experience discrimination in society. The 2008 Kenya National Survey for Persons with Disabilities (KNSPWD) noted that 4.6% of Kenyans are living with some form of disability, this equates to approximately 1.8 million people. It is recognised that there is a complex web of rights based issues that impact persons with disabilities and lead to their exclusion from political, social and economic life. Disability is recognised as both a cause and consequence of poverty, and so in order to meet the poverty reduction targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) it is important that policy and actions are taken that equalise access to rights and services for persons with disabilities

From the baseline survey/research data collected and analyzed and information gathered from key informants and FGDs, it is evident that PWDs are faced with a myriad of challenges with regards to involvement and participation in the management of ENRM. It is also evident that the policies enacted to benefit PWDs in ENRM are not operationalized and have deficiencies in application hence the need for advocacy and sensitization for implementation. Policies on ENRM – Water Act, Forestry Bill and EMCA – all have provisions for public participation and yet the marginalized especially the PWDs have not been involved.There are no explicit provisions in the Acts supporting the PWDs.

Disabled Persons Organizations have low capacity to advocate for the inclusion of PWDs and mainstreaming PWD issues in policies and institutional arrangements in relation to the management and governance of environment and natural resources. There is need to develop a sound implementation framework that supports PWDs participation in ENRM. VSO Jitolee has initiated a project – Proactive Inclusion and Engagement of PWDs in the management of the Environment and Natural Resources (ProPWD-NRM) which seeks to build capacity of community institutions and DPOs at the county level to undertake advocacy and engage in public campaigns in future

Project Outline

In January 2013, VSO Jitolee in partnership with the Climate Change Network Kenya (CCN Kenya), the United Disabled Persons Kenya (UDPK), Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA.) and 8 county partners in 4 counties (Laikipia, Kitui, Migori and Taita Taveta) initiated a project to promote the pro-active inclusion and engagement of persons with disabilities in natural resource management. This project is supported by the Act! Changieni Rasilimali (CRM) facility.
This project has the overall goal of ensuring inclusion and participation of person with disability in the management and governance of the environment and natural resources. The project objectives include:

  • To increase access to information and proactive inclusion of persons with disabilities in the management and governance of environment and natural resources.
  • To strengthen the structures and institutions that support PWD participation and involvement in environment and natural resource management.
  • To advocate for inclusion of PWDs in ENRM policies and legislation at county and national level.

There are four key target communities that the project is working in; Kuria in Migori county, Kitui in Mwingi county, Il Ngwesi in Laikipia county and Wundanyi in Taita Taveta county. The project is working with one Community Based Organisation (CBO) and one Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) in each area, a national volunteer has been placed in each of the target areas and is supported by one international VSO volunteer.
This project seeks to build the capacity of the community institutions and Disabled Person Organisations (DPOs) at the county level. This will enable them to undertake advocacy, engage in public campaigns to support the participation of persons with disabilities in NRM and demand transparency and accountability from duty bearers.
Based on the success of establishing a framework for engagement and inclusion of PWDs in environment and natural resource management and governance in the four targeted counties, this project will look for opportunities to roll out a nation-wide framework of engagement under the devolved governance structure.

Study Methodology

The research applied a systematic methodology based on multiple sources of information, data and knowledge. The consultant, Fasi International, adopted participatory methods and used tools including questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussion.
The questionnaire was developed, pre-tested and then conducted on a total of 315 participants across 15 counties. The key informant interviews used guided questions and checklists and were used to gather information from 63 individuals representing almost 30 institutions and organisation. A total of 19 focus group discussions were held in the sampled areas, each with between five and ten members.
Purposive sampling methods were used to determine the sample size for the study; a total of 315 respondents totalling 50 people from each of the four target areas and 10 from each of the remaining 11 counties. The survey was designed to collect household demographics, socio-economic indicators and also views on the governance and information sharing relating to ENRM.
The sampling frame was designed to sample respondents within the current and future geographic interventions of VSO Jitolee, with a focus on capturing the views of persons with disabilities. Of the respondents interviewed, 51% were male and 49% female and 36% were persons with disabilities.
53 data collectors were trained to administer the questionnaire, and there was an experienced supervisor overseeing the survey in each area. The responses were coded, processed and analysed using the statistical analysis tool SPSS.

Key Findings

Challenges Facing Persons with Disabilities

Discrimination and stigmatisation: many people with disabilities are alienated by their community due to negative cultural beliefs and denied education and employment opportunities.
Lack of representation:persons with disabilities are poorly represented in key institutions and committees including County Environmental Committees and Land Boards.
Access to resources: there are few sources of funding to support persons with disabilities, both as individuals and institutions. Services and facilities that would assist PWDs are often located very far away and are therefore difficult to utilise.
Hostile physical environments: the ease of movement of persons with disabilities is hampered both in terms of terrain and access to buildings.
Communication barriers:it is challenging for those who are deaf and mute to communicate effectively with others. There are also high levels of illiteracy amongst persons with disabilities, and technology is often not accessible for them, eg; computers.
Capacity of disabled persons organisations and persons with disabilities: they are often not in a position to plan, manageand source funds for projects which will benefit them.
Lack of statistics and data relating to disabilities: the most recent disabilities survey in Kenya was in 2008, and there is insufficient accurate and up-to-date information to inform disability projects.

Effects of Climate Change

In all communities surveyed, people expressed concern about the changing climatic patterns and the effects of this on production systems. Rains have become erratic, rivers have dried up and pasture and forest cover is reducing, and this is impacting both agriculture and livestock production. In addition some coping mechanisms employed by communities, including charcoal burning and tree felling, are having further detrimental effects on the environment as they result in soil erosion, forest fires and pasture degradation.
The effects of climate change on livelihood and poverty levels are well documented, and there is an increased impact on marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities who are poorly equipped to adapt to the changes in their environment, or mitigate against them.

Platforms and Strategies for Advocacy

There are a number of strategies and platforms that can be used by Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to advocate for the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in natural resource management:
Sensitisation and raising awareness: the use of media and community events to highlight the impacts of climate change on persons with disabilities and campaign for them to be included in natural resource management. This would also help to address some of the issues of stigmatisation, as persons with disabilities would be seen as active members of the community.
Projects and programmes: specific projects and programmes to support and include persons with disabilities. This will include sourcing funding and planning projects that specifically benefit persons with disabilities, for example; translation of policy and other important documents into accessible formats including braille, skill building and education to enable PWDs to find sustainable employment and mainstreaming disability into county strategic planning.
Policy influence and dissemination: working with like-minded organisations and institutions to lobby for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in policy formation and implementation. Campaigning for persons with disabilities to be represented and actively participate in village committees, county development committees and other county level decision making bodies.

Capacity building of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Persons with Disabilities

There are a number of CBOs already working to support natural resource management or persons with disabilities. To enable them to continue and develop their efforts, they require training and support in advocacy and resource mobilisation.
Persons with disabilities are already seen to be involved in numerous projects in the target areas to promote natural resource management, such as managing tree nurseries, education projects and advising environmental impact assessments.
In both cases these activities should be strengthened and promoted to make the practices more widespread. Rewarding and supporting organisations and persons with disabilities will also encourage more involvement.

Key Stakeholders

As part of the research, the key stakeholders that VSO Jitolee should work with to progress the project were identified. These included national, county and local government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), CBOs, DPOs and private organisations. The key contacts identified were the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) who were identified as working both at a county and national level to develop policy and legal frameworks which should include persons with disabilities.

Policy and Legislation

There are already in existence a number of policies developed by the government to promote the participation of marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities. It is recommended that the project take advantage of the formation of the new government and policy development to campaign for the proactive inclusion of persons with disabilities.
In particular, the Water Act and the Environmental Management Co-ordination Act would provide excellent opportunities for including persons with disabilities in institutional frameworks. This would also include the development of National Environmental Action Plans and state of the environment reports, which should include considerations for persons with disabilities.
The current Disability Act 2003 is not seen as sufficiently protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The central focus of the act is physical and visual disabilities and it does not sufficiently include other forms of disabilities, such as mental disabilities. The Act could be significantly improved by includingprovisions for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, addressing the issues of abuse and exploitation of persons with disabilities, by distinguishing between the different needs of adults and children with disabilities and by linking to other relevant Acts and statutes, for example the Children Act and the Penal Code.

Information Needs of Persons with Disabilities

It is widely acknowledged that persons with disabilities need access to information, in formats that they can use, in order to make informed decisions on issues that affect them. Therefore it is recommended that key policies and documentation be produced in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, for example in braille.
The information that persons with disabilities require include the following; details of their rights, water management policies, natural resource management information, details of alternative livelihoods, funding and technical support. In addition it is important to inform persons with disabilities of local organisations and networks that they can work with, and who can share information with them.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The baseline and household surveys have shown that persons with disabilities face a myriad of challenges with regards to their involvement and participation in natural resource management. It is also evident that few stakeholders have taken action to redress this, and that concerted efforts are needed to address the plight of PWDs and to facilitate their engagement in meaningful development activities. This should include;

  • Creating inclusion and awareness of persons with disabilities in communities, to remove stigma and social discrimination.
  • Support access to information for persons with disabilities; through providing key information in accessible formats and raising awareness of support organisations and networks.
  • Advocating for inclusive policy and legislation that protects the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • Strengthen the capacity of CBOs and DPOs to support the rights of persons with disabilities in natural resource management.