Stakeholders in the child protection sector in Kajiado County have embarked on drafting guidelines to protect children from child labour, online sexual abuse and exploitation.
According to International Labour Organization (ILO) Project Manager Grace Banya, children are still engaged in various forms of child labour, sexual abuse and exploitation and the situation is made worse by the pro-longed drought.
Addressing a stakeholders’ meeting on the proposed draft Kajiado County Child Protection Policy 2022, Banya revealed that the number of children subjected to child labour in Kenya is on the rise as a result of climate change.
She noted that children in counties worst affected by the drought have been forced to drop out of school for lack of fees and food and were engaged in various forms of labour such as street hawking, domestic and farm work, herding and drug peddling among others.
“The number of children engaged in child labour has risen as a result of climate change. Many children have dropped out of school and are engaged in income generating activities to help their parents put food on the table,” she said.
Banya said enactment of the County Child Protection Policy in Kajiado would help protect the children from child labour which is common in the region in the form of sand harvesting, street hawking, farming, domestic work and harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages.
The ILO Projects Manager called on other counties to follow suit and adopt their own Child Protection Policies so as to protect the children from continued infringement of their rights.
Kajiado County Coordinator of Children’s Services Dr. Samuel Masese reiterated that the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (Article 53) recognizes the right of all children to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labor.
In Kenya, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that 8.5 percent of children, or 1.3 million children are engaged in child labour.
The highest child labour rates, at more than 30 percent, are in the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties.
Dr. Masese emphasized that the aim of the Child Protection Policy was to enhance the protection of children within Kajiado County.
“Through the policy, the rights of children will be enhanced in Kajiado and we will also be able to implement the Children’s Act 2022 effectively,” he said.
He further noted that apart from child labour, children especially under the age of five in Kajiado are facing malnutrition due to the prolonged drought. Scarcity of water has also put children at risk of water-borne diseases.
Dr. Masese added that many pupils have dropped out of school and relocated with their parents in search of pasture and water for their livestock thereby denying them their right to education.
By Rop Janet