Positioning Kenya as a Regional Assistive Technology Hub

Prof. Elegwa Mukulu delivers the Vice Chancellor’s remarks during the workshop

Kenya is one of the countries severely affected by shortage of wheelchairs. An estimated 100,000 people in the country need wheelchairs yet only 5% of that population have one. Only 827 wheel chairs representing just 1% of the need were supplied by hospitals and rehabilitation services in 2019.

In response to the calls for universities to be providers of home-grown solutions, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Motivation Charitable Trust (MCT) are working on a partnership dedicated to sustainable wheelchair supply at a national and regional levels.

The partnership which is supported by the Government of Kenya, Provictimis and Equally Able is geared towards delivering the government’s commitments to local wheelchair users by developing a model for manufacturing high-quality, durable and affordable wheelchairs in Kenya.

During an Assistive Technology (AT) Stakeholders Workshop organized by JKUAT and MCT at the University Wednesday, November 23, 2022, a cost-effective prototype of a proposed wheelchair that would suit both the rough and urban terrain was unveiled.

Workshop participants keenly follow the proceedings

Speaking during the workshop, JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi acknowledge that the demand for assistive technology can no longer be ignored in the technological space.

“Currently, over a billion people in the world need a form of Assistive Technology but only one in every 10 of these have access to such devises or technology. As the global population ages and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases increase, this figure will rise to 3.5 billion in 2050,” said. Prof. Ngumi.

In a speech read on her behalf by the Principal of the College of Principal, College of Human Resource Development, Prof. Elegwa Mukulu, the Vice Chancellor stated that it is only through home grown solutions that the Country will realize it’s mandate of catering for people living with disability while also eliminating stigma and discrimination.

The Principal Investigator of the project Dr. Mwangi Matheri of JKUAT’s Rehabilitative Sciences Department makes  his remarks during the workshop

Dr. Zeinab Gura of the Ministry of Health who was representing the Director General lamented the shortcomings of Kenya’s Assistive Technology industry pledging to continue push for solutions at the policy levels.

Dr. Gura commended JKUAT for being one of the leading institutions in rehabilitation in the Kenya.

In order contribute to a systemic change to a more inclusive country, Dr. Gura underscored the need for concerted effort especially in tackling matters relating to people with disability.

“We cannot do this alone, together with various partners we have devised a strategy that will provide sustainable solutions to the short supply of Assistive Technology in the Country and we are now walking the talk,” said Dr. Zeinab.

On his part, Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Harun Hassan noted that it is through such initiatives that organizations connect and network and understand the real problems faced by the society.

Mr. Hassan acknowledged that the initiative to start manufacturing Assistive Technology to meet the demand in Kenya was a key step in addressing other challenges also facing the people living with disability.

He lauded JKUAT for being a propagator of many initiatives such as workshops that are geared towards supporting the mission of his organization.

Other speakers during the workshop include; Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance, Prof. Bernard Ikua, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research Production and Extension, Prof. Jackson Kwanza, CEO of Motivation Charitable Trust, Ms. Amanda Wilkinson, Representative of Pro Victimis Foundation, Geneva, Ms. Ariane Waldvogel, Principal, College of Health Sciences, Dr. Reuben Thuo among others.

Workshop stakeholders in a commemorative photo

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