Advancing disability data in Kenya through partnership

Moses Chege, December 2021
A group of young people sit around a table, talking together. The group includes both men and women, and most of the group members are wearing smart business clothes.
With better quality data, governments and partner organisations can better understand the needs of people with disabilities and take action. Photo © Sightsavers/Patrick Meinhardt

The Kenyan government recently launched an action plan focusing on how it will promote and collect high-quality inclusive data on people with disabilities.

At Sightsavers we’ve been actively working on disability inclusion in Kenya for many years, through our work in eye health, education and employment. During this time, we’ve seen first-hand the barriers faced by people with disabilities in realising their rights.

Without the right data on people with disabilities and other marginalised groups, it’s harder to remove the barriers that they face in accessing services and opportunities. That’s why Sightsavers worked with the State Department for Social Protection and other partners to create Kenya’s inclusive data action plan.

Disability data challenges in Kenya

Kenya’s journey began at the Global Disability Summit in 2018, when the government, through the State Department for Social Protection, signed up to become an Inclusive Data Charter (IDC) champion. The IDC is a global initiative that brings together governments and organisations to advance the collection and use of inclusive data so that no one is left behind.

Kenya used the Washington Group questions on disability for the first time in the 2019 census. These questions can be used by organisations to get a clearer picture of different types of disability. This was a positive step towards understanding the prevalence of disability in Kenya, and the challenges faced by people with disabilities in the country. Despite this, there were still gaps in the data.

These issues were compounded by:

  • Limited participation of organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) in the design and collection of data.
  • Gaps in technical capacity, as well as limited coordination between the government and other organisations in sharing data.
  • The complexities of understanding how disability overlaps with other disadvantages that a person may face, leading to inconsistencies in the way this data is collected.

It was clear that the government, civil society, OPDs and others needed to make a collective effort to tackle these issues.

The Inclusive Data Charter

Sightsavers is a champion of the Inclusive Data Charter, which brings together global governments and organisations to advance the availability and use of inclusive data.

Read about the charter
A group of young people sit around a table, talking together. The group includes both men and women, and most of the group members are wearing smart business clothes.
A group of job seekers with disabilities in Nairobi take part in a focus group, as part of the Inclusion Works programme.

A partnership to drive action on disability data

Sightsavers has been working in Kenya with the government and partners on inclusion for many years, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. So we were keen to support the government in their efforts to strengthen the production and use of disability data.

The State Department for Social Protection led a highly consultative process, which we joined, together with other organisations including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Kenya, Development Initiatives, National Council of Persons with Disabilities, and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, to support the development of its IDC action plan.

As a group, we contributed a range of perspectives and experiences that were helpful in creating the action plan. We took a number of steps, such as conducting an extensive review of the government’s existing data systems to check whether they were disability inclusive. That exercise revealed additional issues and gaps where urgent action was needed.

Sightsavers participated in conversations with senior leadership, including the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, who are the custodians of data in the country, to make them more aware of gaps in the data on disability. The consultative process supported the State Department to build political will for the IDC, with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics co-signing the final action plan.

Sightsavers also helped to organise workshops and consultations to validate the IDC action plan, involving government, civil society and OPDs. This approach ensured that there was buy-in from the different groups involved, which will be crucial when the government starts to implement the IDC action plan.

Ensuring that no one is left behind

While Kenya has made progress, there is still a lot of work to do. With better quality disability data, we can better understand the needs of people with disabilities and take action.

The key learning from our work in Kenya on the IDC is that we need to form partnerships that are inclusive – bringing in government, civil society, people with disabilities and others. That’s how you mobilise action and create change.

Launching Kenya’s IDC action plan is the first step. Now we need to implement it. Sightsavers will be there to support the government of Kenya, and will continue to collaborate with other partners in this work.

With the next Global Disability Summit coming up in 2022, we need others to commit to prioritising disability data, because for data to be inclusive, we must ensure that everyone is counted. By signing up to the Inclusive Data Charter, governments and organisations can join a community of champions who are working to ensure that all their citizens are included in the data, so that no one is left behind.


Moses Chege is Sightsavers’ Kenya country director.


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