In Kenya we've been influencing more inclusive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic with disabled people.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Africa, initial responses were not inclusive of disabled people. The impact of the crisis on disabled people wasn’t fully understood at this stage, by government or local organisations for disabled people.

In Kenya, for example, hand washing stations that were set up across informal settlements were not wheelchair accessible. This meant they were completely excluded and were left feeling abandoned and uncertain about their futures.

After a few weeks, the Kenya disability sector came together in a caucus to address the gap left between government response to COVID-19 and the needs of disabled people. By this time, our teams had already spent many hours during the earliest weeks of lockdown phoning hundreds of our project users – past and present – to establish their needs. So, as part of the group we were able to share direct feedback of our disabled people and work with these partners to initiate first actions.

Man in suit stands in front of blackboard presenting on disability rights

In response to this improved understanding, our group developed a task force of disabled people to engage with the national government and advocate for specific and inclusive support. They also engaged the media to cover the challenges faced by disabled people, raising awareness of rights and creating public pressure for inclusive support.

At the top government level, we now see a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people following the insight of our group.

This has resulted in the government sharing targeted resources to support needs, including cash transfers to more than 70,000 people so far, enabling them to buy food, medicine and other vital supplies. In Kenya, the government have also provided 2,000 litres of sanitiser for those using assistive technology. They are now working on supply of face masks.

We’re incredibly proud to be part of the group who have driven forward this change at a government level. While we are busy supporting our project and service users, this government action creates impact at a far greater scale and could pave the way for even more inclusive policies in the future.

Learn more about our work to support disabled people through the impacts of COVID-19

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