Kenya Re has launched a campaign that is expected to help people with disabilities participate more actively in both the economic and social life.

The Niko Fiti – Ability beyond Disability campaign will run for three years and is expected to sensitize the general public about people with disabilities, as well as ensure that they are engaged at different levels in different aspects of life.

Speaking during the launch ceremony, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, said the country already had laws in place that require property developers to make their facilities easily accessible to people with disabilities.

He said: “The Persons with Disabilities Act 2003, is a comprehensive legislation covering the rights, rehabilitation and equal opportunities, it requires that both private and public sector employers reserve five per cent jobs for people with disabilities.

“All we need now is the ministry of special programmes to operationalise this law. As a country we need to do this and set some time frames so as to empower them. People with disabilities are Kenyans, with rights and do not need to be pitied.”

Kenya Re Managing Director Jadiah Mwarania said people with disabilities can lead normal lives, including being economically competitive and productive if they get proper facilitation.

”Removing barriers, both physical and other barriers, can enable people with disabilities participate effectively in the economy. These people are our employers, employees and consumers and helping them cope with barriers they face is good economics,” he said.

Standard Group, which is partnering with Kenya Re to publicise the campaign, will highlight the plight of people with disability especially when it comes to accessing buildings and other facilities. Currently, there are very few buildings that disabled people can access with ease.

“We will use our resourcesas a media company to enlighten property owners on the need to make their buildings accessible by people with disability, we will also highlight those that fail to ensure their buildings are friendly to the disabled,” Standard Group CEO, Paul Melly, said at the launch ceremony.

“It is fitting that as a country, we should take these issues seriously and allocate resourcesto help people with disabilities. We should for instance be able to set aside land at the county level and put up rehabilitative centres for people who have been in accidents and now find themselves disabled,” said Melly.

Melly urged the Government to put up centres and other resources, both at the national and country level, which can be used to rehabilitate disabled people.

He also urged the Government and private sector to consider hiringdisabled people who have the requisite qualifications.

“It is sad that we have been debating about gender balance in key public offices but rarely are special groups mentioned. Going forward, appointments in the public sector should consider people with disabilities,” said Melly.

He also called on local companies to increase their social investments, since they draw their profits from the same society.

Government statistics show that 4.6 per cent of the Kenyan population or 2.5 million people are disabled people. A significant number of people become disabled because of road accidents. Research shows that road accidents on Kenyan roads have the highest fatalities in East Africa.

Source: The Standard - Kenya's Bold Newspaper