Kakamega County has made a milestone by developing a Disability-Mainstreaming Bill for the first time since the inception of devolution in 2013.
It was not until September 2021, that Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, informed visiting National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) Executive Director, Harun Hassan, that the County was finalizing drafting the Disability Act and Disability Policy.
At the time, Governor Oparanya said approximately 49, 000 people in Kakamega live with disability.
The Bill, which has been subjected to Public Participation, was prepared by two nominated Members of the County Assembly representing special interest groups in the Assembly, Timothy Aseka and Roseline Katibi.
PWDs in the County termed the move a historic moment as they urged the County Assembly to expedite the passage of the Bill for Kakamega Governor Oparanya to assent to it before, exiting office at the end of his term.
The Chairperson of Kakamega County Disability Caucus, Lucy Mulombi, said it has been a long journey coming up with the Bill with tremendous support from Transparency International Kenya (TI).
Mulombi urged the County Assembly Labor Committee, to include submissions made during the Public Participation as submitted through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prepared by the Caucus.
In solidarity with PWDs, Kakamega County Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Board member, William Owuya, submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Committee on behalf of the Chamber.
“As PWDs we want aspirants for the governorship seat, to include our proposals in their manifestoes and make a commitment that they will support us, when they take over leadership,” she noted.
The Chairperson of Labor, Social Services Culture and Sports Committee, who is the Member for the County Assembly (MCA) for Chemche Ward, Jason Lutomia, said the Committee will adopt most of the issues raised by PWDs, which were not enforced in the County.
Lutomia who is a member of the Public Service Committee in the Assembly, said the Bill comes at a time when the Committee received a Report tabled last week at the County Assembly, that depicted a grim picture of the status of employment for persons with disability in the County, that stood at two per cent against the required five per cent.
While responding to some of the concerns raised, Lutomia said the Assembly will seek advice from the County Attorney, on requests from PWDs to have special courts.
The MCA said the Bill will help in ensuring adherence to the laws that are already set out by the National Government.
He noted that the national and county governments have provided a conducive environment for PWDs who work in government by exempting them from paying taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Those who do businesses are also exempted from paying for licenses and any other levies to the county government.
He said the County Assembly will be keen to ensure that all laws that govern PWDs are enforced.
The County Coordinator for the National Council for Persons with Disability (NCPWD), Priscah Akoth, said that the National Government and the Kakamega County have continued to involve PWDs in most empowerment activities.
Noting that the Bill is a big step for ensuring they get their rights, Akoth urged PWDs to come out and register in the new system, as those who registered in the past are also migrating to an efficient and elaborate system, where their NCPWD cards are printed locally.
By Moses Wekesa