The Kilifi County Government has initiated strategies that will ensure all persons with disabilities are included and empowered in all spheres of life, Deputy Governor Flora Mbetsa Chibule has said.
Ms Chibule said the County Assembly of Kilifi had already enacted the Kilifi County Disability Bill which had given the Gideon Mung’aro-led county administration the legal instruments to handle persons with disability and make them live normal lives.
Speaking at the Buntwani Seafront Park in Malindi Town during celebrations to mark this year’s World Disability Day, Ms Chibule she said the act had addressed issues of communication and accessibility to public institutions where buildings will henceforth have ramps for ease of access by the PWDs.
“We must prioritize equality and inclusivity and give our men, women and children who have disabilities a voice in our county,” she said adding, “for example, we have enacted the Disability Act that will address issues affecting PWDs and they were fully involved in the development of that law,” she said.
“We have also directed that all public buildings be built in a way that they are accessible to all residents of Kilifi, including the PWDs. They all must have ramps and all toilets be disability friendly,” she added.
Ms Chibule also said there was need for all public institutions to recruit sign language interpreters or train existing employees on sign the Kenya Sign Language in order to effectively provide services to those who cannot hear and/or speak.
She said there was need to initiate inclusive education in all educational institutions to enable children with disabilities to freely integrate with normal-bodied children with a view to fighting stigma associated with disabilities.
County Chief Officer for Gender, Culture and Social Services Agneta Karembo said the county government was in the process of forming a County Disability Board to look into the welfare of PWDs is the county.
“We have started working on the policies that will guide and coordinate all stakeholders on issues related to empowering the PWDs,” she said, adding that the county administration had started constructing an empowerment centre for PWDs.
The County Coordinator of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Mathias Tsuma decried the existence of stigma against PWDs and the fact that most buildings in the county were not disability friendly.
He stressed the need to have sign language interpreters in the county to enable persons with disabilities to communicate well while seeking services in public offices.
Ms Josephtha Omukobe, the Secretary General of Women Challenged to Challenge, called for the implementation of laws concerning PWDs, noting that the country has adequate laws which had not been adequately implemented for the betterment of the PWDs.
Lois Maluki from the Kuhenza for Children Foundation called on Kenyans to stop stigmatizing PWDs and especially the notion that a child born with disability is cursed and a bad omen to society.