Needs Assessment Survey of Persons With Disabilities in Dadaab Refugee Camps, Kenya

By Anthony M. Wanjohi:

Executive Summary:

It is commonly recognized that Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is attributed to lack of adequate health, education, and livelihood services. The main purpose of this survey was to assess the needs of Persons with Disabilities living in Hagadera and Kambioos refugee Camps in Daadab, Kenya. The survey was guided by the following specific objectives: i) To establish the specific needs for PWDs in relation to access to health services in the   Camp; ii)     To assess the major education needs of PWDs living in the Camp;  iii) To establish the specific needs for PWDs in relation to access to psycho-social services in the Camp and iv) To assess the major livelihood needs of PWDs living in the Camp.

The survey adopted a blended research approach, involving both quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. The sample consisted of three hundred and fifty one (351) PWDs, fifty four (54) members of Focus Groups and eight (8) Key Informants. In total, there were four hundred and thirteen (413) respondents.  The survey used various tools of data collection, namely Questionnaire, Interview and Focus Group Discussion guides. The Questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data from PWDs. Interview guide was used to collect qualitative data from the Key Informants representing various partner agencies in Dadaab. FGD guide was also used to collect qualitative data from the Community Based Rehabilitation members, Special Needs Education Committee and Special Needs Education teachers.

The collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. Statistical applications (SPSS), word processing (MS Word) and spread sheet (MS Excel) were used in processing the data.

From the analysis, the study revealed that access to various health, educational, psycho-social and livelihood services among the majority of the PWDs was a major problem.

In regards to health needs, the majority of PWDs who took part in the study indicated that the following were the major problems they faced:

  • Access to healthcare givers and facilities (73.1%),
  • Access to means of transport (73.3%),
  • Access to adequate medicine (78.3%),
  • Access to specialized services (68.5%),
  • Access to assistive devices (60.4%),
  • Access to referral services (62.1%),
  • Access to hearing services (67%) and
  • Access to physical rehabilitation services (65.3%), mental health services (63%) and speech health services (62.7%). 

All those who participated in the interview and FGDs also reported that access to various health services was a major problem facing the majority of PWDs in Hagadera and Kambioos camps. One of the interviewee reported that some camps like Kambioos had no health facilities and PWDs (the few who can) are forced to seek these services in Hagadera.

The interviewees further noted that there was also lack of adequate personnel and facilities to handle PWDs, referral issues, poor means of transport (donkey carts), lack of adequate assistive devices and lack of adequate attention to persons with mental disabilities and those with chronic conditions.

In relation to access to education needs, the majority of PWDs indicated that the following were the major problems:

  • Access to means transport to and from school (78.9%),
  • Access to teaching and learning resources (67.9%),
  • Access to assistive devices for learning purpose (67.9),
  • Negative attitude towards PWDs by the members of school community (67.4%),
  • Lack of equal educational opportunities for each gender (66.8%),
  • Access to Special Needs Education teachers (66.7%) and
  • Access to friendly educational facilities such as toilets, congested classrooms (65.1%). 

The participants who took part in the FGDs and interviews noted that various agencies had put effort in terms of providing means of transport (donkey carts), availing teaching and learning resources such as Braille, PWDs friendly facilities and assistive devices. However, they all agreed that there is much more that needs to be done to address the existing educational gaps in terms of increasing the number of SNE teachers, improving transport system, influencing change of attitude towards PWDs, availing more assistive devices, teaching and learning resources and facilities.

With regard to access to psycho-social development, most of the PWDs in the study indicated that the following were the major problems they faced:

  • Access to access to psychosocial referral services (70.3%),
  • Access to psychosocial personnel who are sensitive to PWDs needs (69.7%),
  • Access to Guidance and Counselling Services (67.3%) and
  • Access to social and economic support services (64.2%). 

Those who participated in the interviews and FGDs also echoed similar sentiments. Most of them explained that the area of psycho-social development had not been accorded much attention as it deserves.

Concerning access to PWDs livelihood support systems, most of PWDs indicated that the following were the major problems:

  • Access to financial support and placement opportunities (81%),
  • Access to life skills vocational training opportunities (72.3),
  • Access to placement opportunities (71.1%),
  • Access to work permits (69.9%),
  • Access to life skills trainers who are sensitive to PWDs needs (69.3%) and
  • Access to equal livelihood opportunities for each gender (63.3%). 

The participants in FGDs and interviews pointed out that the implementing organization among other partner agencies have been able to make impressive interventions in terms of trying to meet PWDs needs. They reported that PWDs are given financial support to start self help projects and a few are trained. They also noted that there are still major issues in terms of lack of adequate opportunities for them, community attitude, and access to work permit.

Based on the findings, the study drew the following conclusions

  • There are major areas of concern in relation to health needs, which need more attention such as access to health care givers who are sensitive to the needs of PWDs, access to medicine especially for chronic conditions, access to assistive devices (such as visual and hearing) and better referral system, 
  • There are still huge gaps in terms of lack of adequate Special Needs Education teachers, assistive devices, facilities, means of transport, attitude towards the education of PWDs and much so, girl child education, 
  • Not much attention has been given to PWDs psychosocial services and thus the need to focus  more towards building sound social and economic support systems, 
  • Some strides have been made in developing livelihood support system for refugees but there is need for more disability mainstreaming livelihood interventions in terms of providing financial support for self-help projects, vocational training and placement opportunities for PWDs. 

The study recommends the design and implementation of an Integrated Community Based Rehabilitation Guidelines (ICBRG) Framework based on particular provisions of WHO CBR guidelines on each of the 5 domains, namely Health, Education, Livelihood, Social Development and Empowerment.


Wanjohi, A.M. (2014). Needs Assessment Survey of Persons With Disabilities in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya. A Baseline Survey commissioned by Lutheran World Federation. Nairobi:  KENPRO Publications.