Sunday, May 07, 2006

Assessment Report on The Situation of Street Children in Kisumu


This is a brief presentation on the situation of street children in Kisumu, Kenya and some recommendations. This report was presented at the three-day needs-assessment seminar on streetchildren held in Kisumu, Kenya on 23rd, 24th and 25th November 2005.

The report was prepared by Susan A. Otieno of Pandpieri Catholic Children’s Center/Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes – Pandpieri in partnership with the International Leadership Institute (ILI), Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN) and the Children’s Department.

The funds for this study were provided by the University of Minnesota’s Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellowship Program.


Street children – A street child is any human being below the age of 18 years living in the streets. There are children who are born and brought up in the streets and those who left their homes (rural, urban or peri-urban) to live in the streets.

Categories of street children and youth

There are children In (live in the streets) and On (go and get back home for the night) the streets.

The current number of actual street children and youth in Kisumu is approximately 300 (three hundred) that is about 100 between the age of 16 - 25years and about 200 between the age of 6 – 15years. On the street children are approximately 3000 only found during day time. Some of these children even go to school in the morning.

Major activities

1 Begging

2 Carrying luggage

3 Cleaning business premises and vehicles.

4 Collecting waste papers, plastics, charcoal and metals for recycling.

5 Parking vehicles

6 Gambling

7 Loading and off-loading vehicles

8 Assisting the city council cleaners in sweeping and collecting garbage

9 Cleaning utensils in food kiosks

10 Petty thefts e.g. pick pocketing (mostly by the under 16 years)

11 Violent robbery (mostly by the over 16 years youth)

Areas of location for 16 years and above youth

During day time

1 Bus park

2 Fananaor Maendeleo park

3 Taifa Park

4 In front of Barklays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

5 Sumai Advocate’s building

6 Jua kali area

7 Kibuye market (mostly on Sundays)

During night time

[Mostly they are on the move during day time in different areas begging or in search for jobs.]

1 Octopus pub

2 Near Swan centre

3 Somken petrol station

4 Alimran plaza

5 Bus park

6 Mamba hotel

Currently about 40 youth have been rented for houses by other organizations e.g. Vosh Ebenezes.

Areas of location for under 16 years street children

8 Bus park

9 Fanana Park

10 Infront of Barclays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

11 At the lake-shore, Lwang’ni hotel (mostly during lunch time)

During night time

12 Bus park

13 Fanana Park

14 Akamba booking office

15 Octopus pub

16 Near Swan centre

17 Somken petrol station

18 Infront of Barklays Bank, Ukwala supermarket and Mega Plaza

19 Sumai Advocate’s building

20 Infront of Kimwa annex

Some of the factors that push and pull children to the streets

1. Problems within families

Parents separated: at times children are forced to live under very harsh conditions.

Parents staying together but with misunderstandings: causes instability to children.

Widowed man/ women leads to change of living conditions after the death of one parent

Stepparent: some step parents mistreat children forcing them to run away

Orphaned: some children are forced to find how to make their own ends meet due to loss of both parents.

Child born out of wedlock: not accepted by some families.

Placed away: at times we place our children to live with our relatives against their wish.

Very poor families: There are families where children must go out to fend for food and some end up in the streets.

2. Problem at school

School fees: This is mostly with secondary school cases (age 14 – 18)

Corporal Punishment: Not so common currently but is still a problem in some schools

Some factors that pull and maintain children in the streets

1. Handouts (free food, clothing, money, etc)

2. Availability of drugs and easy access to them

3. To some extent the services provided by organizations handling children (some children get attracted)

4. Peer influence

Drugs commonly used by street children

1. Leather glue

2. Petrol and diesel

3. Ciggarets

4. Bhang

5. Kuber (tobacco)

Problems faced by street children in Kisumu

1. Road accidents

2. Harassments by security officers

3. Incriminalization

4. Communicable diseases including, Malaria and dental problems.

5. Fire accidents and others caused by sharp objects.

6. Highly exposed to HIV Aids due to sexual abuses.

7. Used to fulfill cultural practices eg wife inheritance.

Reasons for leaving home, according to



Beating at home:









Peer influence:









Feeling unheard:









Feeling rejected:



Deviant child:



Beating in school:



School fees:






What was done to solve the problem?


Talking “with” child:

Talking “at” child:

Placing with others:

[The factors, drugs and problems mentioned are based on a research done during home placement of 57 street children in various families in Western Kenya.]

Problems and Recommendations

1) Handouts

The Current Situation

The giving out of foodstuffs and money is realized to be attracting more children to the streets, but some individuals apparently find it difficult to refuse a hungry child or to tell him or her to go to an institution instead. Since there are genuine concerns about how some of these institutions are run or what they in fact accomplish, it may not be surprising that street-children prefer the streets where they think they have certain advantages, such as supposed freedom and ready cash.


Members of the public should be discouraged from giving money, food, and other handouts to street children. Instead, organizations in this field should explore the most effective way of providing these givers with alternatives, while at the same time exploiting the desire to give, so that the total amount available for street children and those at risk of going to the streets is increased.

The fact that members of the public respond to the presence of children on the streets in a variety of ways, some of which actually do more harm than good, shows that there may be a source of local funding here that is not being adequately tapped. To that extent, street-children organizations need to explore this possibility for increased local funding, and not rely almost exclusively on foreign funds.

2) Donor Influence

The Current Situation

The current situation seems to be that donors often come up with new ideas they want implementing organizations to put into practice at very short notice. Perhaps there has been a change in the donor country itself that puts the funding agency under pressure to urge implementing organizations to reflect a similar change. Since many implementing organizations do not have a clear vision or objectives on which their choice of strategies and specific interventions can be shown to rest, this leaves the way open for the donors to insist on compliance.

Need for collaboration and a referral system

Currently there are about 8 out 40 organizations working with children in different ways work directly with street children in Kisumu.









Networks that exist to address street children’s issues

1. AAC

2. GCN





Since it is unlikely that any one organization can give street-children all that they require, this underlines the need for agency-specialization, combined with a system of willing collaboration and referrals between one organization and another.


1 An organization should examine itself to know what its particular strengths are. This will enable agencies to learn from each other, make use of comparative advantages to streamline their operations, and also share information and other resources where possible.

2 It is equally important, in this regard, that organizations have specific policies regarding how they interact with other organizations and programmes that are also involved in the work.

3 Good working relationships between private-sector and public-sector organizations is very essential.

4 Donors should also co-ordinate their own activities and support organizations that work well together.

3) Mistrust and lack of collaboration

The Current Situation

The biggest problem is the lack of trust and the unwillingness to work together so that they can learn from each other. Many are trying to do everything, rather than settling on what each can do best, leaving the rest to others, and even helping them where possible. Where in addition there is absence of clear vision and objectives, a very bad situation results where one child and his or her family is being supported by 3 or more organizations and non of them is aware of the scenario and many others do not get the help they need making conditions in society worse and worse. (evident by the current picture in Kisumu town)

The current situation is that most organizations offering services to street-children or children and youth at risk do not have policies, or if they have them, they only developed them when they absolutely had to. This is presumably because there is considerable fear instilled among organizations by the very word `policy’ itself.

Policy simply means thinking about problems in advance, and how the organization will want to handle them rather than thinking under pressure to decide or act quickly. So there is no need to be terrified about ‘policy’.


1 Collaboration also makes it possible for the government to delegate authority for the handling of specific tasks (such as the registration of new programmes) to one or more of the organizations to undertake on its behalf. Without collaboration, such delegation is impossible, because agencies will still be working on the basis of divided minds and at cross purposes with each other. Collaboration, on the other hand, leads to specialization, which eliminates competition and makes partial delegation of governmental authority possible.

2 Organizations that work with street children or children and youth at risk must learn to think through the changes donors may ask them to make, and not to agree to them unless and until they are convinced that the changes are desirable. Donor interests and the changes they recommend should perhaps be incorporated into an organization’s programme on a gradual basis, with the organization being given time to think about the change and reflect on its likely consequences and implications, then giving donors a feedback after an agreed-upon period of time.

3 The government’s presence, active involvement, and indeed leadership in the whole area of street-children work is presently seen and felt. This is to say that the Government has improved greatly and should be encouraged to do even much better.

4 Communities need to be educated as to why this common interest and strong stand are important. Some stakeholders in the present effort have suggested that education of communities is not being encouraged currently because the government fears this possibility. But children’s issues need to be de-politicised. It is in the interests of everyone involved in this field to work toward demonstrating that an educated community that is empowered to take care of its own is an asset to the government rather than a threat, because it actually helps the government to shoulder its responsibilities.

Kenya Street Children’s Project Report (May 2006)


The project has been progressing albeit a little slower than in 2005. We begun the year 2006 working closely with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center in providing them with an English teacher for the first term to teach in the High School section beginning January to April 2006. The project also provided cleaning materials for the bathrooms, kitchens and classrooms and a few textbooks for use in the classes. The project continues to work closely with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center.


The project also held a three-day needs-assessment seminar in Kisumu, Kenya on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of November 2005. The seminar brought together different organizations and individuals involved in child protection in Kisumu, known as stakeholders, to develop initiatives for removing children off the streets of Kisumu and to protect their human rights.

At the beginning of the seminar, one of the stakeholders, Pandpieri Catholic Children’s Center/Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programmes – Pandpieri, through its representative Susan A. Otieno, made a presentation on the situation of street children in Kisumu, Kenya. The paper she presented is available for your perusal.

The project also held a one-day needs-assessment seminar in Kakamega, Kenya on the 29th of November 2005, also bringing together stakeholders involved in child protection in Kakamega, to develop initiatives for removing children off the streets of Kakamega and to protect their human rights.

Both the Kisumu and Kakamega seminars were held in partnership with the International Leadership Institute (ILI), Children’s Legal Action Network (CLAN) and the Children’s Department.


The project’s coordinator will continue to work with Baraka za Ibrahim Children’s Center and the stakeholders identified to realize the common goal of getting children off the streets and protecting their human rights.