A majority of persons with disabilities (PWDs) may not participate in the March 4th 2013 and future elections unless various hurdles related to accessibility in the electoral process are addressed; a recent study commissioned by Action Network for the Disabled (ANDY), a national organization lobbying for equality, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities in Kenya, and conducted by Consumer Trends in Homabay, Kiambu and Mombasa has established.
Persons with Disabilities cannot easily acquire the national identity card or register as a voter due to communication barriers (from hearing or visual impairment), security, lengthy procedures, poor accessibility of registration offices (especially on rugged dry weather roads), long queues, missing proof of birth data and transport problems. Those interested to vie for elections are held back by poverty, low academic qualifications, corruption or stigma from derogatory treatment. Approximately two fifth of PWD spend more than half an hour to reach their nearest polling station from home with another 38% being located 1 to 2 hours away from the nearest polling stations. As high as 70% have to walk to polling centers amid having physical impairment.
Kenyan Constitution (2010) has clear recognition of rights of persons with disability including Braille and Sign Language alongside English and Kiswahili, expanded bill of rights, freedom of expression, new electoral boundaries and elective positions, exemption of PWD from tax bracket at various levels.
The Political Parties Act (2011) and Elections Act (2011) contain important provisions which protect the interest of PWD. Unfortunately, many PWD are broadly unaware of these acts. The Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) has also made plans for mobile polling stations and provision of assistance to PWD during voting. Yet the journey to mainstream PWDs in governance is, perhaps, only just beginning.
About ANDY – ANDY is a Kenyan Non Governmental Organization formed by and for youth with disabilities. It is duly registered with the Government of Kenya through the NGO Board under certificate number OP.218/051/2009/0321/5905. ANDY is a unique initiative that provides an inspiring environment for people with different types of disabilities – and people without disabilities – to work together.
For more details contact:
Alucheli Fredrick Ouko, Executive Director
Action Network for the Disabled, P.O. Box 5837-00200, Nairobi, Kenya|16thFlr Hazina Towers,Tel:+254-020-2324589|Cell:+254-715613602|Email: email@example.com, Web: www.andy.or.ke|
A barrier-free society fully inclusive of persons with disability.