Forum with Nairobi County Stakeholders – Child Protection
Theme: Children of Hope and Promise
Venue: Jacaranda Hotel
Date: 3rd April 2014 Time: 9.00a.m – 1.00p.m
- Addressing the plight of street children as a global human rights concern as we mark the International Day for Street Children
- To evaluate and strengthen approaches used to address the rights of the children living and working on the streets of Nairobi.
- Providing an avenue for strengthening partnerships and linkages with the stakeholders in the children sector.
The International Day for Street Children, launched in 2011 by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), the leading international network of Civil Society Organisations dedicated to realising the rights of street children worldwide aims at addressing the plight of Street children as a global human rights concern.
Kenya is a signatory to various international conventions including the United Nations Convention on t he Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). Kenya also enacted the Children’s Act in 2001 and the Constitution of 2010, which provides fully for the rights of children. All these legislations have provisions to protect the children in need of care and protection. As you are aware, children on the street are among the most vulnerable of groups, and in recent times many development organizations have developed measures and strategies to help ensure the safety, wellbeing and protection of these children.
However, with all these laws, it is also apparent from common practice that children living and working on the streets are disregarded by key duty bearers while they implement child rights and child protection initiatives. Little or no recognition is paid to the needs of children on the streets while policy on access to universal education for children is being made for instance. It is mostly left to charitable children institutions and well wishers to engage in street children rescue and rehabilitation initiatives with little support from other key stakeholders.
In addition, children living and working on the streets are exposed to other harmful elements including exploitative labor, exposure to harmful substances such as drugs, exposure to sexual exploitation, heightened potential in their involvement in crime etc, despite the various provisions in the Children Act providing for entitlements for children to protection from all these elements.
It is consequently the contention here that without targeted intervention for street children within laid down policy strategies and without proper guidelines on rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of street children, coupled with proper monitoring of their implementation, it would be impossible to ensure attainment of the rights of children living and working on the streets.
It is worth noting that key stakeholders, most importantly the National government, County government as well as civil society players need to take drastic measures to rein in the situation and dramatically change the situation of children living and working on the streets for the better. Indeed it is true that many children living and working on the streets if not all of them do not access all the rights provided for them within policy and law, both domestic and international.
A number of measures are necessary in this regard include changes in policy and practice as follows;
- Specific funding for programs targeted at children living and working on the streets should be included in developmental assistance targeted at children.
- As per recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights council Resolution on Street Children 2011: the government needs to review the rights of the child as a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of the rights of the children working and/or living on the streets.
- All law and policy related to children, such as those seeking to address barriers to universal education, children affected by HIV/AIDS etc, should include provisions specifically targeted at children living and working on the streets.
- Processes for the rescue, rehabilitation, re-socialization and reintegration of children living and working on the streets should be revised and organizations engaged in these processes get subjected to stringent scrutiny and monitoring to enhance effectiveness.
- That the county government takes a lead role in actualizing all the above, so as to provide a new, localized perspective, devoid in earlier interventions which had a widespread national approach but paid little in concentrated focus at the county level, which is what is needed most.
Whereas the government has made great strides towards the achievement of the rights of children through legislation, policy and other mechanisms, it is true that a lot more needs to be done to ensure children living and working on the streets attain their full potential and access equal opportunities just like other children.
Coupled with this, review of current policy guidelines, statutory provisions and practice needs to be effected and interventions targeted at the individual, family, community and national level for realization of these.