By Peter Orengo and Njoki Chege
The Government has been asked to increase childrens’ funding to cater for the needs of the 2.4 million orphans in the country.
The Ministry for Gender and Children Affairs said the Sh3.4 billion allocated during the Budget Speech was insufficient.
"Children form over 50 per cent of the total population and currently, there is 2.4 million orphans, about 900,000 children in child labour and about 300,000 families living and working on the streets. As we celebrate this day, there are slightly over one million school age children who are not in school," said Gender Minister Esther Murugi.
Murugi said Kenya has not succeeded in reaching the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals ahead of her assessment this September in New York.
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"Given the current population structure, it is, therefore, imperative that putting children first in budget allocations should be the key mechanism to ensuring that children’s right to health, education, protection and participation are realised," she added.
The minister was speaking during the commemoration of the Day of the African Child Wednesday.
It has its roots in the anti-colonial struggle in 1976 when ten thousand black school going children marched in protest at the poor quality of education.
Hundreds of boys and girls were shot down and in the two weeks of protests that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand injured.
To honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated every June 16 since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity.
Meanwhile, Kenya is among nine African countries to receive funding for pneumonia vaccine. Donors have been urged to increase funding to tackle leading child killer diseases in Africa, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
A Geneva-based public-private partnership alliance, GAVI said on Tuesday the immunisation coverage rates in the world’s poor countries have reached an all-time high of nearly 80 per cent since 2000, and Alliance members are determined to build on their success to tackle the diseases.
"There are new vaccines that can reduce deaths and illness from pneumonia and diarrhoea and developing countries are clamoring for them. We urgently need an additional Sh200 billion to roll out these vaccines ," said Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO of the GAVI Alliance.