2006 Conference General Sessions

MOBILITY APPLIANCES TECHNOLOGY & THE DISABLED IN KENYA

 

 

Presenter(s)
First Name: PAUL
Last Name: OTANDO
Organization: HANDICAPPED MOBILITY APPLIANCES CENTRE (HAMAC)
Street Address: JOGOO ROAD
City: NAIROBI
State/Province/Region: KENYA
Zip/Postal Code: 00200
Country: Other
Day Phone: +254 720 357 419
Fax:
Email: slumskeny@yahoo.co.uk

Presenter #2
First Name: THOMAS OTIENO
Last Name: ORUNGO
Organization: HANDICAPPED MOBILITY CENTRE (HAMAC)
Street Address: JOGOO ROAD
City: NAIROBI
State/Province/Region: KENYA
Zip/Postal Code: 00200
Country: Other
Day Phone: +254 720 357 419
Fax:
Email: slumskeny@yahoo.co.uk

Challenges persons with disability encounter, including marginalization in the design and execution of rehabilitation programs, technical and material resource constraint and future horizon. Life experience lecture presentation.

Although there have been many programs and actions taken by the government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and individuals to elevate the status and welfare of persons with disability, these have not been any effective. The major reason for this sorry state of affairs being, that the disabled person has been marginalized and ignored in the design and even execution of these rehabilitation programs.

At the beginning of the “Decade for disabled persons” a series of international reports stated that 10 % of the world populations were disabled. Whilst we could debate the precise numbers and percentages, it is clear that statistically a very significant portion of the world’s population is in need of dear help. Moreover, as long as poverty, malnutrition, war, conflicts, ignorance and superstition characterize huge areas of the globe and the minds of the global society at large, the number will continue to rise.

The majority of persons with disability at the present live their lives with dignity in absolute poverty, victimized by beliefs that they are possessed by evil spirits, or that their very presence in the society is proof of Devine punishment.

Considering the need for additional expenses relating to their rehabilitation, the disabled are forced to cope with harsh conditions involved in acquiring mobility appliances. In most cases services for disabled persons are seen by governments and individuals as expensive and with little to show for the efforts and money extended. Rehabilitation itself tends to be viewed as a luxury that can wait or arm twisted in the direction of charitable institutions and organizations to handle. Health professionals too are inclined to be negative or even tend to be hostile towards changes in an established system of care that over many decades has slipped into our comfortable routine. Nor is there anything dramatic or eye catching about action aimed at improving the fate of the estimated 1.9 to 2.8 million Kenyans who suffer from disability. The state presents a state of dilemma and disparity which calls for much more conscious approach to bring about a lasting solution.

Even though the Kenya government, through the ministry of Health has adopted Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) as an intervention strategy to the rising demands of the people with disability (PWD) , community participation should encourage prevention, promotion, management of disability problems and or remove health risks through early intervention (OWAKO, CBR Coordinator, MOH-HQ Nairobi Kenya, Presentation – Jinja, Uganda, 1997), however, there is very little effect that can be seen especially in the promotion of wheelchair building and maintenance. The PWDs have been given little chance to participate in issues pertaining to their own welfare – including the design, and maintenance of regular Orthopedic devices and wheelchairs for their daily mobility use.

The situation of the PWDs, especially the ones who live in the marginalized communities including the slums in major urban centers, is worsened by the structures built in the environment as they are always forced to live in “illegal’ and Insecure sites, always characterized by hostile environment, slow shelter consolidations and incremental process and for the majority they are denied land titles, security of tenure, use of amenities and access to building materials and even credit. The PWDs cannot access and or afford the most basic necessities in life, notably ambulation. These openly denies and infringes of them basic amenities such as transport and even directly exposes them to contacts with unsafe, dirty, sometimes flooded environment created by the resource affluent persons in the society who live in the posh estates. These are direct obstacle to the growth and development of the PWD and even to their endeavors to enjoyment of their human rights, freedom of association and employment.

It is necessary that improving accessibility within the natural environment is of paramount importance and a major pre-condition in promotion of effective mobility appliances use. This will act as a stepping stone towards equalization of opportunities for all. In this regards, it is important to promote actions of PWDs in order to facilitate the implementation of relevant strategies in realizing this noble goal.

HAMAC is indebted to exerting pressure to all decision makers in the government, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders interested to ensure a disability friendly environment where all human beings co-existing as a global family, and supplementing efforts of one another. This is possible through introduction of laws relating to PWDs welfare improvement, so as to ensure accessibility of such crucial amenities such as housing, public transport, and other public utilities in general.

PWDs are equally disadvantaged in the job market. HAMAC will strive to promote mobility appliances project which are directly run by PWD to create a working environment where PWDs have a feeling of touch and commitment to improving quality of their lives. However it is necessary to point that the greatest obstacle to development of mobility appliances has been inadequate and inappropriate skills in the technical division and know-how. This has been deeply worsened by the negative attitude of professional who view PWDs as an industry for generating money and to be exploited at the expense of basic needs. The institutions that provide training in mobility aid and related fields offer limited intake and without much consideration given to the PWDs. This isolates PWDs from active participation in designing and modeling their destiny of disparities. PWDs are seen as a medical liabilities who should be “Helped” and not depended on, weak and need care protection and are unable to do anything for themselves. A lot of efforts will be made in order to change this negative perception and to create an enabling environment for all inclusive participation. This is in line with the persons with disability to undertake struggle as a course for achieving social justice. The empowerment aims to create sound national development where all members of the society have a dignified role to improve the social status and mainstreams the PWDs into the overall social, economic and political development.

This is the only easy forward towards equalization of opportunities (48th session UN General Assembly, 20/12/1993, [Resolution 48/96]) which set standard rules to be adopted by all member states – Kenya included. This spirit of curiosity, concern, and commitment to the ideal situation in the lives of PWDs will enable HAMAC to continue with the struggle until the dream is achieved. Whereas the technical and financial aspects of the project is very demanding, there is need to consolidate and improve the existing technical knowledge and skills of the PWDs. This will be done in close consultation with the stakeholders who includes the users, local and international experts, local institutes of technology and both professional and non-professional centers with relevant technical know-how skills to be adapted into mobility appliances building and technology. It is vital to note that the social fabric is becoming more supportive of the initiatives made by PWDs and hence we hope to exploit this potential to gain maximum support from the government, non-governmental organizations, social clubs, developmental groups, individuals and community as a whole in order to raise more funds and promote the building of friendly appropriate mobility aid for the rough terrains in Kenya. We expect to reach a great number of handicapped mobility appliances users through decent realization of services to the community level. It is our dream at HAMAC to see that every person with disability has direct access to mobility aid, and can afford the same at reasonably acceptable rates at the time of need. We see a clear future where a well established mobility appliances center will be developed and run by the PWDs at National, Provincial, and District levels. This will have a multiple effects and create employment too many PWDs who are today seen as burden to the countries economy.

Considering that Kenya is blessed with vast natural resources, the project will continue to maximize utilization of the existing resources for the overall gain extended to PWDs. These locally available materials are found even at the lowest administrative units in the divisions. The greatest advantage of the materials other than their availability is repair and maintenance at the community level using the simplest technology available with the local artisans. This gives them a great edge over the imported mobility appliances which are unable to cope with and withstand the Kenyan environment.

The project is in line with the country’s focus on rural development, and promotion and development of local appropriate technology to improve social, economic and political development. Being an income generating, there will be a stable base for future project sustainability. This is further strengthened through direct involvement of Kenya Wheel Chair builders Association (KWBA) a brain child of HAMAC.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT:
Handicapped Mobility Appliances Center (HAMAC) is situated in Shauri Moyo, in Pumwani Division of Kamukunji constituency, Nairobi Province. The organization was formed in 1994 and it got registered as a national forum for the persons with physical disability in Kenya.

The project main objective and mission is to strive to economically empower persons with disability so that they can have capabilities of initiating Income generating activities (IGAs) produce and provide mobility appliances. We also act as advocacy unit to sensitize persons with physical disabilities to realize their basic and human rights and equal opportunities.

This ensures self sustainability to achieving our objectives and rather discouraging donor reliance for project support syndrome.

Since inception of HAMAC after the 17th World Rehabilitation International Conference held in Kenya in 1992, we have met Ralf Hotchkiss of Wheelchair Whirlwind International of U.S.A and after the world wheelchair training that was held at Limuru Conference Center, Kenya in 1997, we met Susan Berge from DHR Stockholm, we forged a co-operative relationship for funding possibilities to enhance the capacity and capability of building whirlwind wheelchairs to improve the situations of persons with physical disabilities and participate in the provision of mobility appliances.

The establishment of HASMAC Workshop to produce wheelchairs and the employment of persons with disabilities in the production unit and the advocacy was notified after the Swedish funding in 1999 to equip the workshop with tools, machines, stock of materials, and provision of resources to employ staff and rental of workshop for a period of one year. The project activities were of a total fortune for the organization. This was capped by a visit of two HAMAC representatives to Sweden.  


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