Example 4: Advocating for the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities in Kenya

Project Type: Advocacy

The Organization 

Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH)

Nairobi, Kenya
Web:  http://kaihid.org/

Founded in 1996 as a teacher-based organization, the Kenya Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) is committed to the promotion of the welfare of the intellectually handicapped. The mission of KAIH is “[t]o promote the human rights of [persons with intellectual disabilities] and their families within society through education, advocacy, empowerment, and information exchange.”

The Problem 

Persons with intellectual disabilities in Kenya face higher incidences of sexual, physical, emotional and psycho-social abuse than the general population. As a result, they are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

Only 1% of persons with intellectual disabilities in Kenya have their Kenyan National Identification Card. Consequently, obtaining benefits and asserting rights based on citizenship is quite difficult. Additionally, only 1.5-2% of persons with intellectual disabilities attend primary school, and they therefore have fewer employment opportunities than the general population that attends school at a higher rate.

Most of these problems are traceable to widespread discrimination and stigma within Kenya against persons with intellectual disabilities and the lack of knowledge that persons with intellectual disabilities have of their own rights.

Actions Taken

In 2004, KAIH began to shift its focus away from training teachers to educating parents and supporting the home life of children with intellectual disabilities. KAIH formed parent support groups to teach parents about their child’s intellectual disabilities.

In addition, KAIH informs children with intellectual disabilities of their human rights. Armed with knowledge, children with disabilities can now use a rights-based approach for self-advocacy.

Finally, KAIH has worked to educate the community about intellectual disabilities to counter the prevalent stigma and discrimination that exists against persons with intellectual disabilities.

Results & Lessons Learned 

There are now 42 different support groups throughout the Migori, Nyeri, Kiambu, Siaya and Nairobi counties. Each county has its own list of accomplishments, including those related to education awareness creation, advocacy, self-advocacy, economic, social and political change; HIV/AIDS and reproductive health; vocational rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods; resource mobilization; and institutional strengthening and governance.  You may find a list of each county’s accomplishments here:

In 2011, KAIH won the social inclusion category at the inaugural Ability Awards, Kenya’s first awards ceremony for organizations and people advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. KAIH’s work advocating for persons with disabilities was nationally recognized at the Ability Awards.