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The need for additional Government support for children with disabilities underlined by research

1st October: Mothers in Kenya have spoken of the pressure they are under to kill babies born with disabilities in a two-year investigation, according to Disability Rights International (DRI).

Nearly 45% of women interviewed in the study said that they had come under such pressure. Women who elected to keep their children born with disabilities reported to DRI that they are shunned by families and the community, with children not allowed to attend school. DRI said its researchers also visited twenty-one orphanages across the country and documented severe neglect and abuse of children with disabilities. The Local Chief of Muranga County says in the report that families of children with disabilities require more intensive support: “There is evidence that social protection schemes in the form of, among other things, conditional cash transfers to families have been effective in augmenting child care and reducing the need for alternative care.”

The author of the report, Priscila Rodriguez, called on the Government of Kenya to provide support for children with disabilities rather than relying on orphanages to do so. The call comes after the UK’s International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said at the Global Disability Summit, co-hosted by Kenya, that placing children in institutions “harms children’s physical, emotional and psychological development [with] children with disabilities… often the first to be placed in institutional care, the last to leave”.

A programme to provide cash transfers to families with children with disabilities started by the National Council for People with Disabilities led to the de-institutionalisation of several children. A NCPWD Chief Programme said that after the cash transfer program started, “some parents went to retrieve their children from institutions… this showed that with little support, families can take care of their children with disabilities”.

DFID has commissioned research on how to make social protection systems disability-inclusive and work linked to this by the late Development Pathways researcher Krystle Kabare identifies a need for a Child Disability Benefit. This will be launched at a crucial post-Global Summit meeting on 16th October in Nairobi. Join us by clicking here to register.

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