Pilot Project Taking Shape

There are a number of children and youth living and working on the street in Kisumu. The reasons for this are complex and multifaceted, however it has dire consequences for the children involved. Lack of education, substance abuse, crime, unemployment, sexual abuse and prostitution are but a few of the challenges children face when they live and work on the streets. This in turn can have consequences later in life for the children who do not get out of this situation at an early stage.

Moreover, many of the children and youth will at one point or another get into conflict or contact with the police or the judiciary in Kisumu. In 2013 there were a reported 607 children passing through the Kisumu Children’s Remand Home. Of these, only  148 where child offenders whereas 459 are so-called children in need of care and protection. This means that institutions designed for dealing with juvenile delinquents must also ensure that the interests of the children who are in need of care and protection are also protected and cared for.

Pilot Project

The Oslo Center has established a pilot project on child rights in Kisumu, Kenya. The project focuses on the issues concerning juvenile justice, that is, children in contact or conflict with the law. We wish to strengthen the mechanisms and institutions dealing with these children. Reintegration and rehabilitation are two important and essential tools, in addition to creating awareness on diverting children out of the mainstream judicial processes as soon as possible.

The Children’s Services in the county administration areresponsible for the coordination of issues and activities concerning children, as well as for the protection of all children in Kisumu County. The Children’s Services cooperate with international and local NGOs in Kisumu.  The Oslo Center will in this pilot project cooperate closely with the Children’s Services, as well as the police, the Undugu Society of Kenya and the West Kenya Law Society .

Challenges

One of the main challenges is to ensure close and sufficient follow up of the children, both while they are at the children’s institutions as well as when they are taken back home to their families and local communities.  The county authorities are doing their best but are severely lacking resources. This lack of resources makes a close monitoring difficult and it is challenging to follow up children properly  when they are being reintegrated back into their local community. Consequently, children often end up back on the streets – a vicious circle that can be difficult to break. Many children are also stigmatized and met with prejudices when they return, and might in turn be ostracized by their families and communities.

Activities

The Oslo Center wishes to raise awareness on these issues through various means. Firstly, we will, together with our partners, conduct two training workshops for police officers, children’s magistrates, children’s officers and other representatives from the county government in addition to local administrative chiefs. The workshops will focus on the practical implementation of the existing legislation as well as sensitise the participants on the importance of, and ways to reintegrate children and youth back into their communities. Family therapy will be an important element of this work.

In addition, the Oslo Center and our local partners will organize a roundtable conference in October. Here, key actors in this field will get together to share their experiences and challenges they have met in working with such issues. The purpose is to strengthen the coordination between the various actors, which in turn will ensure better protection for children and youth coming into contact or conflict with the law.

← Help the helpless   |   The Oslo Center enlarges →