Street Children in Nairobi

Street children and families Nairobi Kenya

 The Number of Street Children in Nairobi is Increasing.

The presence of street children is not a preserve of the Global South nations because they are present in the Global North, however, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is a crisis and credible data sources point to an increase in their numbers over the years. In Kenya, understanding the background of these members of our society is an important factor that may equally explain the gaps in policy and actions that should counter the rise. Kenya has several dedicated governmental and non-governmental programmes that seek to address this problem, however, as the proprietor of Good Samaritan Children Home, Mercy Thuo Mugeci Mburu puts it, “Kenya fails because she lacks smart strategies that address localized grassroots causes of street children.” The lack of official government data on the number of homeless children shows the gap in solving the problem of street children in Nairobi, worse still, there is complete disregard on the gender composition and age groups of homeless children.

A 1999 study by Consortium of Street Children (CSC) indicated that Nairobi had over 50,000 street children, a figure that grew by 10% annually. In 2001, another research contradicted CSC’s findings and estimated the number to be 20,000 and in 2007, several sources indicated that the number was slightly more than 60,000 in Nairobi alone. In addition, these data sources failed to provide the gender and age group figures.  This kind of discrepancy may not help to identify the exact number of street children and therefore hinder effective planning.

street children in Nairobi Kenya

Photo by Kychan

In 2015 and 2017, the Nairobi County Government together with the National Police Service detained hundreds of street children to clear the CBD for the then American President Obama’s visit and to make the Central Business District (CBD) safe respectively.  On June 13, 2017, the Daily Nation reported that the whereabouts of the children remained a mystery since they were not in any government rehabilitation facility, surprisingly, both the National and County authorities pointed fingers on who should carry the burden of these children.

Truth is, the two governments have departments and funds for these children but have never really focused on solving the crisis. Documents like the 2011 Framework for the National Child Protection System for Kenya and the County Child Protection Systems Guidelines give clear procedures on the responsibilities of each government in a multi-sectoral approach. Kenya should undertake a multi-pronged approach that addresses the causes of children living in the streets while building sustainable solutions better than the 2003 program which absorbed approximately 500 street children into the National Youth Service.

Share with friends

1 comment

Nice read

Leave a Reply