NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – At least 2,000 street children have been rescued and rehabilitated in Nairobi in an ongoing initiative by the County Government to get them off the streets.
The County Executive Committee for Education, Social Services and ICT Anne Lokidor said the ongoing programme which kicked off in December last year, is meant to bring back sanity especially in the Central Business District, where the street children have made it their hub.
“We have embarked on a cleanup exercise of street children after receiving numerous complaints from the business community,” said Lokidor in an interview with Capital FM News.
Lokidor said the 2,000 that have been rescued will undergo counseling, receive treatment of their addiction as well as provide life skills including enrolling them back in school.
“It’s worth to note that not all street children are drug addicts, with most being lured into the cities out of false promises.”
The county, which has five rehabilitation centers, last year saw 17 children sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams, whereas seven sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
“The first thing we do after rescuing these children is to take them through counseling, treat them of any addictions, as well as offer life skills,” said Lokidor. “We also enlist them in schools to make them better people in the society.”
So what exactly is leading to the influx of street children in the county?
“There is a deeper problem that needs to be addressed,” said Lokidor. “Most of these children come from broken homes, their parents are alcoholics; family violence as well as poverty are some of the main contributors.”
“This is why the issue of street children will remain a perennial problem as it stems from the family,” explained Lokidor.
There is no official figure on the number of homeless children in Kenya but an estimate by the Consortium of Street Children (CSC), an international charity, suggests the number of street children could be as high as between 250,000 and 300,000 throughout Kenya, including 60,000 in Nairobi alone.
How is the county planning on handling the issue, which is proving to affect the business community?
“The rehabilitation programme that we kicked off in December last year, will be a continuous,” assured Lokidor.
“But also as I said the issue is so deep rooted as it emanates from the family set up,” noted Lokidor, “ I can assure from our end the necessary action is in play as we try to rescue as many street children as possible