The number of adults sleeping on the streets of Kisumu City has increased sharply over the last eight months raising concerns amongst different stakeholders.
According to a recent street census conducted by Kisumu Street Children Rehabilitation Consortium, a total of 318 adults (all male) sleep on the streets.
This signifies a 21 per cent increase from the previous year with fears the scenario could present a security problem as the city slowly reopens to business after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Mr. Chris Page who chairs the consortium said the figure was an all-time high in the lakeside city calling for concerted efforts to establish the push and pull factors of the new phenomenon.
134 children, all male, were also counted during the census night bringing the total number of street population in the city to 452. This according to the consortium signifies a 10% increase in overall street population in Kisumu with some of the children coming from as far as Uganda and Tanzania.
Speaking during the Area Advisory Council (AAC) meeting at Kasagam Secondary School in Kisumu East Sub-County on Thursday, Page said even though the number of street children in Kisumu was lower compared to Nakuru, Kakamega and Kitale, the rising number of adults was a big concern.
Page, who is also the Director of Agape Children’s Home that helps rehabilitate street children, said over 60 per cent of the street children and adults counted were from outside Kisumu.
He pointed out family disintegration, child neglect, drug abuse, cultural traditions and physical and sexual abuse as some of the reasons the children end up on the streets.
“Kisumu is a regional hub, that is why we continue to witness more and more children trickling into the city every day,” he said.
The numbers, he said could be higher than the ones counted since a number of the street children and adults have shifted base from the Central Business District (CBD) to Nyalenda and Kondele to avoid confrontation with police officers who are enforcing the 9pm-4am curfew.
During the Covid-19 period, the consortium, he said has rescued 346 children from the streets. Rehabilitating the children, he said was the biggest challenge since the government closed all Charitable Children Institutions (CCI’s) and Rehabilitation Centers to contain spread of Covid-19.
He urged the government to consider reopening the rehabilitation centers so that the children are attended to and those on the streets are rounded up for rehabilitation.
By Chris Mahandara