Working with governments toward greater independence and opportunities for disabled people

The challenge

  • There are 4.4 million disabled people in Kenya
  • 67% of disabled people are unemployed and living in poverty
  • 81% of disabled children do not go to secondary school

Disabled people represent some of the most vulnerable members of Kenyan society. They are very often unable to access basic services such as healthcare or education. They are subject to widespread stigma and discrimination meaning that it is hard to find a job or attend school.

Kenya has an expanding economy, but the continued exclusion of disabled people means that they do not benefit from this growth. Most live in extreme poverty. The Kenyan Government are making new inclusion policy to tackle this - and our work supports this.

For Harrison (pictured), life changed when he was paralysed after a car accident. “It was hard... I was staying in bed the whole day. I did not want to see my friends and they did not want to socialise with me. My mother became depressed because she did not know how to help."

Motivation in Kenya

We’ve been working in Kenya since 2003. Our Motivation Africa office in Nairobi brings together Motivation staff and project partners from across Africa.

Our recent collaboration with World Vision enabled us to develop new wheelchair clinics with staff trained in assessments and fittings. Over 1,000 people received a wheelchair through this project. Ensuring access to the appropriate wheelchairs to suit disabilities and the local environment, we saw improvements in health and self-esteem, as well as mobility.

Since the global COIVD-19 pandemic, we've seen many of these services grind to a halt. Unable to provide hands-on prescription and fitting services, the work of physiotherapists and other clinicians was halted. Waiting lists for wheelchairs keep growing.

Many disabled people like Silvia have been left using inappropriate wheelchairs. In many cases, they have been stuck with no wheelchair at all.

Our current work in Kenya focused on kick-starting these wheelchair services and providing hundreds of people with access to good quality wheelchairs. We're also working to improve the way wheelchair provision works at a national level, in collaboration with disabled people's organisations (DPOs), government and other international non-profit organisations.

Our priorities

Wheelchair fitting and services

People in Kenya often live many, many miles from a health centre that can provide an appropriate wheelchair. So far we've established 10 new centres for assessment and provision of wheelchairs. Four of these are in Nairobi while the others are spread out across Kisumu, Muranga, Machakos, Nakuru and Thika. Wheelchair provision has not met demand in these regions, but we're changing that.

We’re continuing to train technicians, physiotherapists and clinicians who deliver these services. Wheelchair provision is often not covered in their studies, so we're sharing our expertise so they can develop their skills.

This means that people with more complex mobility disabilities are properly assessed so they receive wheelchairs that fit their specific postural support needs and environment.

Disability confidence

When someone receives their wheelchair, it’s important to ensure they also have an opportunity to learn about mobility skills, health and disability rights.

We train experienced wheelchair users to provide this support to other disabled people - many of whom have never been given any information about their spinal cord injury.

Our Motivation Peer Trainers visit new wheelchair users in hospital or at home to build their confidence and offer support. This way knowledge is shared by people who know exactly what it’s like to get around in a wheelchair. It’s a vital part of what we do.

Harrison is typical of someone who’s gained confidence from a new wheelchair and training, and now wants to use his knowledge and confidence to help others.

“Before I went to training I thought I was alone. But after, I realised that people are living with disabilities and having good lives.

"I am independent and I have the skills to look after myself. I would like to go to villages and give disabled people the support that Motivation has given to me so they too can have a better life."

Access to inclusive employment

Our Ready, Willing and Able programme worked with disabled people to improve access to work. We worked with partners to deliver training on job seeking and interview skills as well as information on disability employment rights.

We saw 226 wheelchair users increase their confidence to find employment, so they can provide for themselves and their families. Of these, 29 already have secured jobs! 

We also worked with a national body of HR professionals and provided inclusion training to 116 people from businesses in Nairobi. Disability inclusion champions provided insight to the employment of disabled people to challenge stigma. This work resulted in policy change from major employers to become more inclusive. 

Ready, Willing and Able was part-funded by UK aid from the UK government. 

Find out more

If you have further questions about our work in Kenya or would like to receive extra information, please get in touch on 0117 966 0398 or [email protected].

Support Motivation

You can help us to rebuild wheelchair services in Kenya so we can empower more people like Harrison. Make a donation today.

 Photos © Matt Grayson