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Kenya: How cash grants empower people living with disabilities

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Kenya: How cash grants empower people living with disabilities

Thanks to a recently introduced law on funding for people with disabilities, the World Food Programme is working with Wajir County authorities to support people like 8-year-old Ikran
From Africa Renewal: 
24 February 2022
Eight year old girl in wheelchair with head of Wajir field office and her family.
WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd
Eight-year-old Ikran with Lynette Watiti, head of WFP’s Wajir Field Office, as Ikran's mother Halima, and her brother Hassan look on.

Ikran is eight years old. She lives with her family in Barwako, 3km from Wajir town, capital of one of Kenya’s poorest counties – the country is grappling with hunger caused by the severe drought in the Horn of Africa

Ikran with her brother Hassan
Ikran with her doting twin brother, Hassan.
Photo: WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

She receives a disability allowance that allows her mother, Halima, to buy her the foods that suit her needs best.

Hassan taking his sister Ikran for a ride in her wheelchair
Hassan helps Ikran.
WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

The disability cash transfer programme is a social protection intervention by the County Government of Wajir that is supported by the World Food Programme (WFP). It aims at boosting income security and improving the well-being of people with disabilities and their families. 

Ikran, her twin brother, Hassan, and their seven siblings, live in 3.6 metre squared Somali hut known as an aqal. 

Ikran is quadriplegic and Adan, her older brother, is also disabled. To support her children, and her retired husband too, Halima, makes and sells mandazi  – a popular fried dough snack – in the school canteen. She also runs a small kiosk next to her hut.

Mother holding her daughter.
Ikran is quadriplegic and her brother Adan is also disabled.
Photo: WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

Her days – a flurry of caregiving and income generation activities – start at 4 a.m. She checks up on Ikran and Adan, prepares breakfast, and the mandazi for sale, ahead of opening the kiosk. 

“Before disability cash transfers, life was very stressful,” she says. “Feeding a large family of nine children, two of whom that need 24-hour care on a meagre income was very challenging”. 

Woman making pastry
Halima makes and sells a fried pastry called mandazi.
WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

Ikran started receiving the cash transfers from 2015. But that stopped in 2017 when the lack of laws to back up the annual budget for the disability fund led to its suspension. 

Recognizing the importance of this safety net, WFP stepped in to support the Wajir County Government in drawing up the Persons Living with Disability Bill which was passed into law last September.

Smiling mother holding her daughter
The US$35 Ikran earns her family makes a huge difference.
WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

WFP provided both technical and financial support to the county, convening and facilitating the policy formulation process, and further supporting registration, selection of beneficiaries and post-payment monitoring of the cash transfers.

Under this new agreement, the cash transfers resumed in August last year, with an annual budget of US$123,350 (14 million shillings). Each of the 256 families currently enrolled in the programme receives US$35 every month. 

Girl on blanket with her family
Ikran is empowered by the recently passed People Living with Disability law.
Photo: WFP/Arete/ Fredrik Lerneryd

“I used the money to buy mattresses and bedding for both Ikran and Adan,” says Halima. “I also bought some food items in bulk like rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, maize, and beans.”

Among the items that she buys for Ikran are disposable nappies. Before the cash transfers, Ikran would be forced to use old pieces of fabric that were unsuited to Ikran’s needs and caused her discomfort. 

“WFP is happy to support county governments in strengthening policies for the benefit of those who are most vulnerable,” says Lynette Waititi, head of WFP’s Wajir office. “The Persons Living with Disability Act has enabled Wajir to allocate an additional 2 per cent of its annual development budget to the Disability Fund.”

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