The Government will set up drop-in centres in major towns to serve as contact points for street children.
|Dr Manu Chandaria, chair of the Street Children Rehabilitation Trust Fund, admires a basket made by former streetboys during the launch of the street families rehabilitation exhibition at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi on Thursday. Photo/STEPHEN
The centres will offer food and other facilities to attract the street children. Through this arrangement, social workers will have an opportunity to convince them to join rehabilitation programmes.
Local Government minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the first centres would be opened in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret. This is a radical shift in strategy in dealing with street families who have in the past been forcibly evicted from the streets.
The non-residential centres will also provide counselling, medical services and recreation for the children.
“Those targeted will visit the centres out of their own volition rather than being forced. There will be higher chances of success because such an approach will seek active collaboration of the targeted children and youth as opposed to forcefully taking them from the streets against their will,” Mr Kenyatta said in a speech read on his behalf by PS Solomon Boit during an exhibition to mark five years of a rehabilitation programme by his ministry.
The minister said the ministry would train 150 social workers to equip them with relevant skills to enable them handle rehabilitation programmes at the grassroots level.
He warned those who sold glue to the children to stop doing so as the police had been instructed to deal with them firmly.
He appealed to Kenyans to contribute towards the rehabilitation programme through the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund under his ministry.
Mr Boit explained that the programme had been upgraded to a fully fledged department while its budget would be increased from the current Sh33 million to enable it undertake its mandate.
The chairman of the fund, businessman Manu Chandaria blamed rapid urbanisation and poverty for the street children menace in cities.
He called on Kenyans to take the children as their own as it was the only way to deal with the challenge.
Dr Chandaria called on the Government to speed up the purchase of a children’s centre in Nyeri and the development of a piece of land in Ruai to house the children.
Meanwhile, a new study shows youths want politicians to urgently address the high levels of unemployment and runaway crime in most parts of the country.
The youths accuse the politicians of failing to prioritise the availability of condoms.
They also accused them of failing to address teenage pregnancies and abortion, among other reproductive health issues.
The study, which was conducted in the eight provinces last year, involved 1,949 respondents, Centre for the Study of Adolescence executive director Rosemary Muganda said Thursday.
Experts estimate that almost 250,000 adolescents abort annually.
A 2002 study by the Ministry of Health in 56 health facilities showed that four out of 10 of those who died of complications from abortion were adolescents under 19 years.
Some of the negative consequences associated with teenage pregnancies include high school drop-out rate or interrupted education, vulnerability to or participation in criminal activity, social ostracism and child neglect.