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, life changed forever after a car accident left him paralysed. “It was hard,” he told us. “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. Eight years later, we established a Motivation Africa office in Nairobi, bringing together local Motivation staff and project partners from across the region.

Our recent collaboration with World Vision enabled us to develop new wheelchair clinics with staff trained in assessments and fittings. Our goal was to reach people with mobility disability with the right wheelchairs. Over 1,000 people received a wheelchair through this project, improving health, mobility and self-esteem.

Our current projects in Kenya build on this work. We recognise that mobility is only part of the problem. For disabled people to be truly included and able to participate in all aspects of life, we’re working to ensure greater independence and opportunities to get an education or find a job.

Our priorities

Wheelchair fitting and provision services

People in Kenya often live many, many miles from a health centre that can provide an appropriate wheelchair. We are establishing 10 new centres for assessing, providing and fitting wheelchairs. Four of these are in Nairobi while the others are spread out across Kisumu, Muranga, Machakos, Nakuru and Thika. Wheelchair provision woefully lags behind demand in these regions and we want to change that.

We’re continuing to develop the skills of local technicians who deliver wheelchair services, too. This means that people with more complex mobility disabilities can be properly assessed so that they have wheelchairs that are fitted to their specific postural support needs and environment.

Confidence and resilience

When someone receives their wheelchair, it’s important to ensure they learn about mobility skills, health and disability rights. We’re training experienced wheelchair users to provide support and valuable lessons to other disabled people.

These 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 employment

Our Ready, Willing and Able project is helping disabled people to access work and earn a living – sometimes for the first time. This programme provides job skills and disability rights training. We work with wheelchair users to build confidence and knowledge to find employment so they can provide for themselves and their families.

We are also working with communities, businesses and the Kenyan Government to challenge the discrimination that leads to the exclusion of disabled people in society and in the workplace.

New technologies in wheelchair design

We’re always striving to improve the way wheelchairs are designed and provided. As part of our ongoing innovation, we’re trialling new ways of using 3D printing in Kenya.

With project partners at the Global Disability Innovation Hub and funding from the Department for International Development, we’re aiming to develop appropriate wheelchairs in a sustainable way. This means they can be manufactured and maintained locally and flexibly at low cost.

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 empower disabled people like Harrison in Kenya and throughout our other focus countries by making a donation today.

 Photos © Matt Grayson