HOMELESSNESS

Concerns raised as street families flock to Kisumu city

Some 368 adults, among them four women, counted during census by a lobby

In Summary

• The count was conducted from 9pm to 2.30am

• The Kisumu Central Area Advisory Council calls for concerted efforts to establish the problems underlying the rise so solutions are found

Kaloleni MCA Prisca Auma servers lunch to street children during a New Year event in her Arina home in 2017
Kaloleni MCA Prisca Auma servers lunch to street children during a New Year event in her Arina home in 2017
Image: FAITH MATETE

A huge number of adults sleep in the streets of Kisumu city, raising concerns over a surge in homelessness.

A census drive conducted by the Kisumu Street Children Rehabilitation Consortium on July 2-3 revealed a significant increase over the past four months. Some 368 adults, among them four women, are in the streets. This translates into a 32 per cent increase from the figures of the previous year.

The count was conducted from 9pm to 2.30am. The lobby says most of the adults slept at Tivoli Centre, opposite City Hall. The data paint a grim picture of the situation, with the number of street children also on the rise — an 18 per cent increase in the last quarter. And following the recent demolition of illegal structures in the lakeside city by Kenya Railways, there is fear the number could increase.

Some 139 children — all of them male — were counted. Most children sleep below a billboard in the city bus park. Only 26 per cent of them spend their nights in the central business district. The number of children is, however, lower than that in Nakuru, Kakamega or Kitale.

Speaking during a meeting organised by the Kisumu Central Area Advisory Council, Chris Page, who chairs the consortium, called for concerted efforts to establish problems underlying the rise so a solution can be found.

Page, also the director of Agape Children’s Home that rehabilitates street children, said the rising number of adults was a big concern. He said the majority of those living in the streets are from neighbouring counties. Many others are flocking to the city daily and that hampers rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, he said.

Winam assistant county commissioner  Joan Chebet called for speedy investigations with a view to ensuring no family is in the streets. Something must be done immediately, she said.

Evelyn Anam, an officer at Kisumu Children’s Office, said the department plans to hire child protection volunteers who will work with children's' officers to fix the problem.

(Edited by F'Orieny)