Desert Wheel Race Conference Resolution

Desert Wheel Race Conference Resolution

By Najar Nyakio Munyinyi,

While others are still stuck in what can only be termed as archaic-age-solutions by able people thinking on behalf of PwD’s, the Desert Wheel Race is refreshingly different in many remarkable ways.

The race is the genius of Harun Hassan, a PwD via Northern Nomadic Disabled Persons’ Organization NONDO which is also his brainchild. NONDO’s vision is a society where persons with disability have a voice and space to participate and live dignified lives, while their Mission is to advocate for the rights, inclusion and participation of persons with disability from Northern Kenya in all spheres of life.

The Desert Wheel race is unique in this respect, that it is the only event in Sub Saharan Africa of it’s type and that it’s also organized by PwD for PwDs. It is the biggest paraplegic race in Kenya, and while Harun is aware of the impact of the race which brings men and women of all age groups and backgrounds together across the Nomadic North, he states adamantly that the race is nothing compared to the impact of the Desert Wheel Race Conference.

And this is true.

I was personally amazed at the high level of organization and reach that the members and friends of NONDO have achieved by bringing together a large number of MCA’s and Governors to a National discussion table. The Disability agenda has jumped from an idea into a living entity.

The first Desert Wheel Race Conference was in 2012, also in Isiolo. A draft resolution was the outcome of that conference. Today’s conference was a game-changer that brought together 12 Counties from NEP to Kajiado, into a single room. Set in Isiolo in an Oasis Shaba Sarova, the event was hosted by H.E. Dr Mohammed Abdi Kuti Governor Isiolo, who apart from simply hosting has played a personal role in the planning of the race itself including preparations for hosting thousands of PwD’s, security and hospitality issues.

The conference was opened by the Devolution Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, with assurances that that Government of Kenya is doing everything it can to ensure progressive implementation of Article 54 requirements of the constitution.

The 1st Isiolo resolution was a draft, and the aim today was to beef it up into a document which will be known as the 2nd Isiolo Document.  This document will be written with strong recommendations falling under the National Big Four Agenda. If this is achieved, I understood it will be the 1st Model Document of it’s type – just as the Tax Exemption Article for PwD’s is originally Kenyan.

The issues discussed fell under the categories of:-

Affordable Housing

Universal Healthcare

Enhancing Manufacturing

Food Security and Nutrition

As I looked around the room I saw men and women who had for the longest time been severely discriminated against, marginalized and locked from society – talking about their concerns in elegant, uncrowded, peaceful surroundings. The discussions were orderly, mannered and on point. The PwD communities and NONDO have achieved what other marginalized groups have failed to achieve which is a cohesive clear forward moving blueprint. They have declared to Uhuru himself that they refuse to be marginalized any longer nor accept ‘handouts’ or ‘wheelchairs’ and ‘pity’ when many are well read, intelligent and ready to give back to society. Include those who are PwD due to accidents or tribal clashes, through misadventure or sports injuries. The numbers are almost 15% of the total population which means that over 2 million men, women and children are PwD whom if the State does not acknowledge as having talent, will lose billions of shillings in sedentary care.

Thankfully, these men and women want inclusion, are shouting loudly that disability is not inability, and they’re fighting for it, their motto regarding government policy-making is a simple ‘nothing about us, without us’ – which is a kick in the teeth – don’t plan anything for them, if they’re not in the room.

Maybe we should all borrow a leaf from PwD’s and NONDO. They’re clearly ahead of the game.

Najar is a social activist and the CEO of Errant Natives.