, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – Gender and Children Affairs Minister Esther Murugi has protested the budgetary allocation for children saying it was too little to cater for all their needs.
The Minister said that despite 50 percent of the population being comprised of children, only Sh3.4 billion was allocated for children affairs in the 2010/2011 fiscal year.
“We are about to go for the assessment of the Millennium Development Goals in September in New York and the most disappointing thing is that in spite of Kenya having started the Free Primary Education we are not going to be given a pass mark because we have not reached the targets that were set in view of bringing up our children,” she said.
Speaking during celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child, Ms Murugi said there were 2.4 million orphans and the government was able to assist only 140,000 of them through the cash transfer fund.
“And you can see we have not even been able to reach 10 percent of the orphans we have in the republic of Kenya so we really need to readdress ourselves again and see what can be done to ensure that the 2.4 million orphans of Kenya have shelter, food, clothing and all the basic necessities,” Ms Murugi said.
She noted that about 900,000 children were still in child labour, 300,000 lived in streets while another one million children did not attend school despite the free primary education.
She said the reason most children were not attending school was because “of poverty, parents lack understanding of the value of education and the other reason is just that we are not concerned enough to ensure that our children get education.”
“Even if families are poor, let us allow children to be children, let us allow children to grow in a healthy environment where they can play, go to school and where we can ensure that they live a fruitful life,” she appealed.
She added that another 50,000 children who were supposed to be on antiretroviral therapy were not because majority were orphaned and lacked continuity.
UNICEF Kenya representative Olivia Yambi said this year’s theme of planning and budgeting for children should come as a wake up call for governments to invest in the future generation.
“UNICEF will continue to advocate for allocation of resources towards those areas that matter for children so that we can at the end of the day say that the budget of the government of Kenya is truly child friendly,” she said.