By Dr. Macharia Irungu, MBS
In a recent gathering, I was stunned to hear of a parent who failed to enrol one of her children in school because she was living with disability. But the mother saw it wise to enrol the other two children in school as they had no disabilities. Her simple explanation was that the child was differently enabled, and hence she did not require any formal education.
This is an example of how the wider society discriminate children and our fellow citizens who suffer from various forms of disabilities which include blindness, hearing impairments, mental retardation, loco motor disability among many others. The biased treatment of persons living with disabilities is therefore cause barriers that deny them social, economic, political, education and self-developmental rights.
The above story therefore reminded me of the various challenges which Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) face and which ultimately deprive them of basic services by our society largely contributed by parents who discriminate and subsequently subject them to untold suffering.
It is against this background and in appreciation of such challenges PWDs face that moved Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), through its Foundation to establish the Inuka programme. The programme has two facets: Inuka Scholarship programme that facilitates children completing their primary school education to access secondary school education and Inuka Social Empowerment Programme that aims at building capacities of PWDs in skills-based training and other economic opportunities.
KPC set up the Inuka Scholarship program in 2016 and the first batch of beneficiaries successfully selected to join the program were enrolled for Form one in various schools countrywide in January 2017. They maiden class under the scheme supposed to have completed their form four schooling at the end of last year, but they were however delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the education calendar nationally. With 94 new students joining the program each year, the number of beneficiaries have since grown to 376 under the scheme.
KPC through its foundation collaborates with the National Council for persons Living with Disabilities (NCPWD) in the program which enrolls two children, a boy and a girl from each of the 47 Counties in the country. The successful children who are drawn from modest backgrounds are offered benefit through this initiative in which the company pays their school fees besides meeting other basic needs.
Indeed, the programme has been instrumental in complementing the efforts of the national government towards the realization of one of Vision 2030 goals of providing equitable access to quality education at all levels. Towards this end, the Company spends a total of Kshs 14 million annually translating to Kshs 56 million since the programme was started slightly over four years ago.
While access to quality education is a constitutional right, a vast number of PWDs in Kenyans cannot afford to pay for their education in public or private schools. Unfortunately, the fact that PWDs constantly need specialized medical attention and other needs, the ripple effect of this is that other household’s needs such as education are affected thus stunting their economic wellbeing and lifestyle.
Indeed, KPC has and continues to make a positive impact on society through improving the lives of individuals, special groups, and communities across the country. We have set aside resources to give back to society as our way of appreciating not only the resident communities along our easement – adjacent to our pipeline network. Undeniably, we have made a deliberate decision to consistently set aside 1% of our Profit Before Tax (PBT) and dedicated the same to Corporate Social Investment (CSI) activities annually.
Certainly, access to quality education for every child is a necessary ingredient to spur the country’s socio-economic growth. This explains why we attach great importance to education as a key pillar in our Corporate Social Investments (CSI) initiatives. Through this agenda, the company aims at promoting quality education for all Kenyans. It is important to note that KPC has aligned its CSI programmes with the government goals of access to quality education for all children.
Irrefutably, sustainable CSR, which has now morphed into CSI demands a critical appreciation and understanding of the key issues that affect communities within the areas which we operate in and offer solutions that offer hope and ultimately transform the lives of the beneficiaries.
As Africa’s premier oil & gas company, and as a responsible corporate citizen, we must meaningfully engage and direct our social investments to such issues sustainably and in line with our strategic objectives. The provision of quality Education, health, infrastructure among others are key considerations in our strategic vision. Certainly, our belief is that creating a lasting impact on society matters more than the profits that we may make.
Consequently, in realization of the huge impacts of a proper CSI strategy and the need to better realize the benefits of our philanthropy, we thought as KPC that we needed a more organized vehicle to drive this strategy. It is this thinking that moved us to establish KPC Foundation to drive our CSI agenda.
Through the Foundation, we seek to accelerate our social investments to communities and transform lives through the implementation of impactful initiatives. Further, a Foundation is critical for effective and centralized avenue to giving back to the society in an organized, systematic and targeted manner. Communities continue to give positive feedback about KPC in appreciation of the projects and programmes that we have undertaken for them.
Besides, the Foundation has helped us in broadening the scope of our community support options which includes offering grants to communities during emergencies in form of disaster relief and economic hardships. In 2019, we supported communities through the Red Cross Society of Kenya the victims of landslides in West Pokot to reconstruct their homes.
Significantly, sustainable CSI can easily be achieved through a Foundation. This is because sustainability demands that firms should prioritize increased and high-level accountability and transparency not only with the key shareholders, but the community at large. Such candidness is easily achieved. Through our Foundation, KPC has been able to work closely with communities along our right of way in partnership with other major stakeholders and has been able to respond sustainably to potential environmental challenges associated with our business since it is much easier to communicate the impact of the business to the society, without having to justify your existence in times of a crisis.