Street kids struggle for survival in Kenya

Street kids struggle for survival in Kenya



There is no official figure on the number of homeless children in Kenya, a sign of the lack of interest by Kenyan authorities of the problem.

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Ragged, hungry and rejected by society, thousands of street children abandoned by nearly all live in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

There is no official figure on the number of homeless children in Kenya, a sign of the lack of interest by Kenyan authorities of the problem.

One estimate, by the Consortium of Street Children (CSC), an international charity, suggests the number of street children could be as high as between 250,000 and 300,000 throughout Kenya, including 60,000 in Nairobi alone.

In the district of Mlango Kubwa in central Nairobi, a former landfill is a refuge for street children, who call it “the base”.

Here they sleep on the hard floor, close to the rubbish dumps where they scavenge for scraps to make some profit, but at least the place is safe from outside eyes.

A few hours after dawn, some children are still lying on the ground, the plastic bottles from which they sniff glue beside them. Other spaces are empty, with those youngsters having headed off to work, begging on the streets.

“When people see some of these kids, they do not take them as human beings,” said Moha, himself a former street child, who escaped the tough life, and ekes out a living now dancing alongside bands. “When people see them sniffing glue and dirty, they beat them or insult them.”

Some children are pushed onto the street following the death of parents — sometimes due to HIV/AIDS — or after running away from violence at home. Others live on the street simply because their families are too poor to look after them.

– ‘Act of despair’ -“It is quite difficult to describe the situation… you find if they sleep outside someone’s shop, in the morning, instead of the owner waking them up gently, they kick them or even pour water on them,” Moha said.

Many leave their rural areas – where traditional community ties have loosened – for cities, where they have more chance of surviving by begging, finding odd jobs, scavenging rubbish sites, or prostitution.

Abandoned by the state, several charities offer help. Alfajiri is one of them, a project set up by Australian artist Lenore Boyd, who offers drawing lessons.

“It’s just to invite the kids, to get them to create. It’s not to teach them, it’s not to impose anything on them,” Boyd said. “It’s to say: ‘Tell your story’. They’re very focused and they do lovely work… they tell the stories in their heart and they just enjoy themselves.”

When Boyd walks the streets of the slum, children throw themselves at her, finding friendship and love they otherwise lack.

“Everybody needs to think about the way they’ve been treated, and why they’re living on the streets, and suffering on the streets,” Boyd said. “These kids are traumatised, they are kids who had huge suffering, they’re abandoned… going to the streets is an act of despair.”

– ‘Selling their bodies’ -Girls face an especially tough time.

The Rescue Dada Centre — ‘Girl Rescue’ Centre in Swahili – has been supporting the rehabilitation of street girls in Nairobi for over two decades.

Composed of a dormitory and classrooms, the centre is home to 70 girls. It offers psychological support as well as education, and leads efforts to reunite them with their families.

“The life in town is very difficult, one sleeps out in the cold where you are rained on, sometimes you find that you wake up and find that one of your colleagues has died,” said Janet, 16, who just recently joined the centre. “Others even end up selling their bodies in order to get money to buy food.”

Of the girls admitted in 2014, almost a third were victims of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, some the victims of gang rape. Many are forced to become prostitutes, with a high risk of contracting AIDS.

“Rehabilitation can take a lot of time,” said the centre’s director Mary Njeri Gatitu. But she struggles on, providing what help she can.

“It is a drop of water in an ocean, because the issue of poverty in Kenya is not being addressed by the government,” she added.

Global Consumption and Waste Projections

This article summarizes three reports, McKinsey Global Institute Report, The World Bank Report and The Economist, on the global consumer and waste conditions and why Green Fire Engineered Reclamation is pursuing Landfill Mining. We are the only Engineering company in the world that can do what we do, reclaim the lost value that we have wasted.

We estimate that between 2% and 5% of the consumer consumption growth in dollars is the cost in waste and that is just to store it in a landfill, mostly likely an open landfill.

1% of the population of the major cities pointed to in these reports are the people that live on landfill and half of those are Children of the Landfill.

Links to the full reports are in the resource list at the end of this article and you should read through them to get the full picture.

Summaries of reports:

Global urban consumption is expected to grow by $23 trillion between 2015 and 2030 at an annual growth rate of 3.6%1. These are the projections made by McKinsey Global Institute’s new report Urban World: The Global Consumers to Watch.

The report is based on the research that as world population growth slows, global consumption growth (the demand that fuels the world’s economic expansion), will depend heavily on how much each individual spends.

Knowing which consumers are likely to be spending robustly, where they are, and what products and services they prefer to buy becomes even more important for companies, policy makers and investors.

Until the turn of the century, more than half of global consumption growth came from an expanding number of consumers in the world. However, in the period to 2030, population increase will generate only 25% of global consumption growth with the rest coming from rising per capita consumption.

By 2030, consumers in large cities will account for 81% of global consumption and generate 91% of global consumption growth from 2015 to 2030.


World Bank Report 2

The amount of garbage humans throw away is rising fast and won't peak this century without transformational changes in how we use and reuse materials, write former World Bank urban development specialist Dan Hoornweg and two colleagues.

Hoornweg and co-author Perinaz Bhada-Tata expanded on their work from the 2012 World Bank report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management to estimate the trajectory of solid waste growth globally and to determine when it might peak.

In the earlier report, they warned that global solid waste generation was on pace to increase 70 percent by 2025, rising from more than 3.5 million tonnes per day in 2010 to more than 6 million tonnes per day by 2025. The waste from cities alone is already enough to fill a line of trash trucks 5,000 kilometers long every day. The global cost of dealing with all that trash is rising too: from $205 billion a year in 2010 to $375 billion by 2025, with the sharpest cost increases in developing countries.

As a nation, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.5 pounds (2.04 kg) of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day, fifty five percent of which is contributed as residential garbage.

The waste generated by developing countries is about half of the US, about 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg) of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day.

forecast that if business continues as usual, solid waste generation rates will more than triple from today to exceed 11 million tonnes per day by 2100.

The planet is already straining from the impacts of today’s waste and we are on a path to more than triple quantities," the authors write. "Through a move towards stable or declining populations, denser and better-managed cities consuming fewer resources, and greater equity and use of technology, we can bring peak waste forward and down. The environmental, economic and social benefits would be enormous.

A global comparison of garbage 3

NOTHING evokes environmental degradation and poverty quite so vividly as pictures of slum-dwelling children scavenging through mounds of steaming waste for items to sell. Such sights are often a direct consequence of economic success and rapid urbanisation, and so could become increasingly common as the rate of urbanisation in many poor countries increases.

Nearly all rubbish is generated by city-dwellers, and in a new report on municipal solid waste (MSW), the World Bank warns of the potential costs of dealing with an ever-growing deluge of garbage.

The world's cities currently generate around 1.3 billion tonnes of MSW a year, or 1.2kg per city-dweller per day, nearly half of which comes from OECD countries. That is predicted to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, or 1.4kg per person.

The Bank estimates China's urbanites will throw away 1.4 billion tonnes in 2025, up from 520m tonnes today. By contrast, America's urban rubbish pile will increase from 620m tonnes to 700m tonnes.






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If you are interested in participating in this effort to lift these children to inspiration, please join me in the Markethive group “Green Fire”. It is from here that we will start a crowd funding campaign to aid Green Fire in its mission – The Children of the Landfill.