Number of street urchins in Nakuru goes up

Street boys in Nakuru town the families has increased in the recent past PHOTO: BONIFACE THUKU

The number of street people in Nakuru town has increased, according a recent survey by children stakeholders.

The research conducted by Agape Children's Ministry shows there are 971 street people, among them 462 minors.

According to the report, 51 per cent are males, with the majority aged under 16 years.

"Forty-eight per cent of Nakuru's street population consists of children. Among the children, 63 per cent are under the age of 16, who need to be rescued," reads a section of the report.

The research found that the majority of those living on the streets had both parents still alive.

Challenges that force the children onto the streets include domestic violence, problems in school, child abuse and neglect.

The report adds that 76 per cent of the children living on the streets obtain money by offering cheap labour, begging and selling items on the streets.

To curb the high number of street children, the report recommends a long-term commitment to building strong relationships with the street population and the local community.

According to Nakuru Police Commander Hassan Barua, some children live with their parents and only to move to the streets in the evening to beg.

One of them said he opted to move to the streets following neglect by his father, who he called a habitual drunk. The child from Bahati sub-county has been on the streets for four years after dropping out of school at Standard Three.

"I am not an orphan but I prefer to be on the streets because of my father's unwelcome behaviour. He attacks everyone at home when he is drunk despite failing to provide even a single shilling," he said.

Mr Barua revealed that an average of 10 children are rounded up from Nakuru streets daily, a number he said had reduced from 20 last month. He said the children are taken to remand homes pending trial. If found guilty, those below 15 years are sent to rehabilitation centres and the older ones to borstals or prison.

The capacity of the juvenile centre in Nakuru is 55 children but the facility is sometimes forced to hold more than 120.

"When the police arrest these children, they investigate their backgrounds and those found with parents are taken back home after counselling," said Barua.

Senior Resident Magistrate Judicaster Nthuku, who handles children's cases, said in order to eliminate the problem of street children, irresponsible parents should