The main purpose of this study was to examine the influence of street connected children rehabilitation projects on developing holistic children in Kenya; a case of Kilifi County. The study was guided by the following four specific objectives: to establish how life skills training influence the development of holistic children in Kenya-a case of street connected children in Kilifi County; to ascertain how basic education provision influences the development of holistic children in Kenya-a case of street connected children in Kilifi County; to identify how vocational skills training influence the development of holistic children in Kenya-a case of street connected children in Kilifi County; and to access how drug rehabilitation influence the development of holistic children in Kenya-a case of street connected children in Kilifi County. The study was framed within the empowerment theory, psychosocial development theory and the moral development. The design of the study was a descriptive survey. The target population of the study was 100 respondents. This study was a census since the population of study was small. The data collection instrument for the primary data was a structured questionnaire and interview schedule. Data was analyzed by use of SPSS version 25.0 and multiple regression analysis was carried out to test the hypothesis. Results indicated that, in relation to the first objective that sought to establish how life skills training influence development of holistic children in Kilifi County, all the manager respondents (100%) supported the idea that life skills training influence development of holistic children in Kilifi County. In testing the hypothesis, the H0 was rejected and instead the H1 was accepted. Therefore, life skills training have a significant influence on the development of holistic children in Kilifi County (β = 0.237; t

= 7.616; p=0.007 < 0.05). In relation to the second objective that sought to ascertain how basic education provision influence development of holistic children in Kilifi county, a positive relationship was established. When testing the hypothesis, the H0 was rejected and instead the H1 was accepted. Therefore, basic education provision has a significant influence on the development of holistic children in Kilifi County (β = 0. 113; t = 5.306; p=0.008< 0.05). The third study objective sought to identify how vocational skills training influence development of holistic children in Kilifi county. Results indicated that100% of the center managers strongly supported the idea that they have been offering vocational skills training and this has played a very crucial role in developing a holistic child. When the hypothesis was tested, the H0 was rejected and instead the H1 was accepted. Therefore, vocational skills training has a significant influence on the development of holistic children in Kilifi County (β = 0. 454; t = 17.221; p=0. 002< 0.05). In relation to the objective that touched on drug rehabilitation strategies, when testing the hypothesis, the H0 was rejected and instead the H1 was accepted. Therefore, drug rehabilitation strategies have a significant influence on the development of holistic children in Kilifi County (β = 0. 250; t = 9.746; p=0. 000< 0.05). It was recommended that: the staff handling the various life skills training should familiarize themselves with the needs of street connected children. Further, it was recommended for a well-structured curriculum that takes care of the individual needs of each and every street connected child. The researcher also recommended for well laid guidelines on developing vocational training centers within the reach of the children in the rehabilitation centers for better results. The researcher also recommended for the involvement  of  the  various  governmental  and  NGOs’  agencies  in  designing  drug and

substance abuse reformation in the centers so as to help the children who have been abusing drugs to stop.


      Background of the Study

The phenomenon of children living on the street is not a new issue worldwide. This issue has brought awareness to humanitarian, religious, and governmental agencies for more than thirty years (Marrengula, 2019). As per the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report (2018) and Ainamo (2017), the actual number of children who depend on the streets for their existence and growth is not known and that percentage fluctuates according to increasing disparities and urbanization patterns, socio-economic, political and cultural conditions. The estimated censored numbers of street children are often inaccurate because of the fluidity of the inhabitants and so there are insufficient data and the community tends to be underestimated (UNICEF, 2018). The inherent problems with counting the number  of homeless young people because of their mobility were argued by Consortium for Street- Connected Children (2018).

Corcoran (2018) noted that no nation and almost no urban center in this world is without existence of street children. The United Nations Children’s Fund (2019 has estimated that there are tens of millions of street children and adolescents worldwide in both developing and developed nations. There are around 120 million street children in the world, with 30 million in Africa, 30 million in Asia and 60 million in South America (Children’s Rights Portal, 2018; Horton, 2018). International Streets Kids (ISK) (2019) estimated that there are over 400 million children living on the street in the world today. The number has increased in recent decades because of political turmoil, civil unrest, family breakdowns and death of parents, war, poverty, natural disasters, HIV/AIDs, rapid industrialization or simply social economic collapse. Parental neglect, abuse and widespread poverty are popular driving forces for a life on the street (Asante, 2016). Additional factors that pull children to the streets include spatial freedom, economic freedom, adventure, glamour in the city and street based relationships or gangs (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2019).

Globally, there has been an increase in the number of street children in Pakistani in the past a quarter a century as the country’s population increased (World Bank, 2019). According to UNICEF (2019), the population of Bangladesh has augmented, and the number of children in the streets have also grown to an approximated 4 million. There are numerous causes of these swelling numbers of street children among them being extreme poverty, lack of contraception, and lack of education. From a governmental perspective, childhood poverty in Bangladesh may be the result of corruption, dysfunction, and neglect. The children represent a good proportion of the total population and it is estimated roughly about 47 percent in the country with an estimated 3.8 million street children living in Bangladesh and 55 percent of them are in Dhaka city; forcing various agencies to come up with drastic measures of addressing this menace (Rezaul, 2018). Poonam et al. (2019) while documenting information that is very useful for the background of the study noted that various non-governmental organizations since the year 2015 started implementing a number of rehabilitation projects that have been very crucial in ensuring that the street children are reformed and achieve holistic development. Among the most significant projects quoted are the food and nutrition projects for the street children and their families, basic education provided at the rehabilitation centers, life skills training projects,  vocational skills training, and rehabilitation from drugs and substances abuse projects. In Dhaka city, projects run by UNICEF in collaboration with local FBOs was responsible for

310 reformed street children from drugs abuse, 101 graduated with vocational skills training and over 510 children had basic life survival skills (UNICEF Pakistani, 2019).

UNICEF (2018) estimated that there are over 32 million children living on the streets in the African region due to poverty, abuse, political turmoil and HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, there are reported to be approximately 250,000 children and young people on the streets. A study in Ethiopia shows that 150,000 children live on the streets, according to the government. Some 1 million kids, most in Cairo and in Alexandria, are thought to be on Egypt’s streets (Consortium for Street Children, 2018). UNODC (2020) confirms in Egypt, that the key factors which cause young people to roam the streets of Cairo, Giza and other Egyptian cities are poverty, unemployment, family breakdown, child abuse and neglect with experts estimating that 200,000 to one million children are on the streets, often doing anything that is essential to survive. This therefore needs urgent measures to address this

trend of new society that if left alone can be very dangerous across the spheres of the country. However, a report by the Ministry of Military Production in 2017 signed partnerships with various agencies like the UNODC to implement various projects that were aimed at changing the drug addicts and street children in Cairo. Since then, a number of projects were implemented like the provision of life skills, the rehabilitation from drugs and substances abuse, training on basic vocational skills. As reported by the Minister of Solidarity Ghada Wali, in 2020 before the covid-19 pandemic hit the country, they had reached 2100 street children with 406 being placed in formal employment in the ministry of Military Production. These findings formed basic background information that helped to inform the role children rehabilitation projects can play in developing a holistic child who can sustainably fend for himself/herself.

Regionally, UNESCO (2019) estimated that there are over a million AIDS-orphans living in Uganda. These children, on whose lives the AIDS epidemic has a significant social, economic, and psychological impact, are more vulnerable and therefore more likely to end up homeless and living on the streets. While laying the foundation used as the background information for the current study, Anich (2019) did a study that confirmed the high numbers of street children in Kampala who need urgent attention by various government and non-governmental agencies due to the challenges they face in these streets. The hostility, harassment, including rape, illegal arrest and detention, and the overriding deprivation of street kids in Kampala call for coordinated and immediate action (Munene and Nambi, 2019). In a summary, Munene and Nambi (2019) found out that rehabilitation projects like creating some homes in the rehabilitation centers for the street families, giving basic education to the street children, training them on basic life skills and vocational skills besides rehabilitating them from the drugs and substances abuse have been used as effective strategies for developing a relative better street reformed child.

Generally, as per the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2019), street children face a number of challenges that call for urgent measures like the implementation of street children rehabilitation projects. In fact, according to the report that was carried out in various countries including Kenya, children are deprived of many of their rights before joining the streets and while on the street. These children are more likely to be seen as

either victims or delinquents than as right rights holders. This varies depending on who is viewing and on the social attitudes based on the child’s characteristic (age, sex, ethnicity, and religion) and the operations he or she is involved in (selling flowers versus sniffing glue). A child considered to be a ‘victim’ may be further abused or exploited or ‘rescued’ from the streets (welfare approach) and may be placed in a children’s home. A seen as a “delinquent” may be targeted to join a criminal gang, chased away by local businesses or arrested by police and taken to court (repressive approach). These children face many risks and abuses, those who should protect them are unfortunately also abusers. Numerous scholars, humanitarian groups and child rights organizations have found cases of the police and special forces abusing and maltreating children from the streets of the world’s main cities instead of protecting them(The State of the World’s Children, 2018). Street involved youth are ambiguous victims, in that they experience often egregious human rights violations, but may also engage in illicit acts as a means of survival; thus they may be seen by some as criminals to be punished whereas children who experience violence are easier to present as innocent victims (Poretti et al., 2014; Kaime-Atterhög and Ahlberg, 2018).

The phenomenon of less fortuned children living in the street remains to be major concern for the department of children welfare worldwide (Kaime 2018). This problem is escalating from urban areas moving to rural areas. This special population suffers great impact in life hence being subjected to harsh life. They are left to approach life in their own way hence falling victims to unacceptable behaviour within the community (Drane 2018). United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2019) reports that street children especially those living are likely to lack basic needs that all children are entitled to due to lack of identity documents that are necessary for healthcare, education, or for the reason that they are discriminated by institutions or individual officers. Kaime (2018) observes that children living on the streets lack basic knowledge, skills and proper attitude. The lack of knowledge and skills make them vulnerable and predisposes them towards illegal activities such as abusing drugs. These children have a bleak future as they lack some form of basic education and economic training. Their life expectancy is terrifying low and they face a dark future (UNICEF, 2018).

Ansell (2016) notes that while children escape to the streets to avoid problem at home, in the end their inability to find healthy livelihoods is exacerbated by the consequences of living on the streets. The age group of children aged 12-18 years are said to be the victims of adapting maladaptive behaviours that are health versus unhealthy from surrounding environment (Guerra and Dierkhising, 2019). They are also treated by society as outsiders and not as children to be nurtured and protected. Through several forms of social control, marginalization and powerlessness they are spatially and socially oppressed. As a result, daily life can be like living in an enemy territory for a street child (Hutchison, 2010). Street children often suffer from nicknames that indicate they are not liked by the population. They are called saligoman in Rwanda, in other words brats. They are called pivots in Rio de Janeiro, that means small criminals, in Hounduras they are called resistoleros, that means sniffers of glue (Gadensborn, 2018). In Tanzania Street children are referred to as ‘Watoto wa mitaani’, in Kenya as ‘Chokoraa’ and in the DRC as ‘Moineaux’ or ‘Sparrokes.’ The sad fact is that everywhere children living and working on the streets are ignored

,scorned, maltreated and not understood by society and the government besides the names given to them (Kopoka, 2018).

An interview done with the Cambodian Father Kizito, founder of the Koinonia Community, and some former street children informed the Kenyan government of the need to initiate rapid response to street children. Over the years in Kenya a lot been has been done according to the law that protects children. A rehabilitation operation for street children in the central business district was initiated by the Nairobi Serving Governor. As per the  move of the Governor, in rehabilitation centers the street children were to be treated for their drug addiction. Nairobi is one of the country’s cities with the highest population of street families. The campaign pledges of the Governor were to ensure the orphanages and rehabilitation centers accommodated street children. Rehabilitation schools for children rehabilitation in Kenya is rooted back to the ages of colonialism. Rehabilitation schools have been established under section 47 of Children Act 2001, Laws of Kenya.

According to Leonards (2017), rehabilitation programs vary depending on geographical location of rehabilitation centers, age and gender of children living on the streets. However, programs offered give children an opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills and to

promote their attitudes. The programs aim to ensure that children acquire skills which they can use as well as help them solve their own personal problems after leaving rehabilitation centers. However it is not clear whether such programs achieve this objective, a need for this study.

      Problem Statement

Across the globe, numerous studies have indicated that millions of children are getting into the streets and street families are increasing due to a number of factors, among them being poverty, poor parenting, corruption and even instabilities in political arenas (World Bank, 2018). In countries like India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Haiti, Mexico, Venezuela, the number of street children is alarming; calling for urgent measures to be undertaken by the various agencies to save these children. In Bangladesh for example, the Foundation for Research on Educational Planning and Development (2017) did a study and found out that there is dangerous and precarious situation of street children. There is enough evidence that working children are living in serious poverty conditions and their numbers are growing with overwhelming 55% of street children living in Dhaka. These unimaginable figures have from time to time forced the relevant government ministries plus other donor communities to come up with a number of projects aimed at reducing these numbers. Among the projects implemented since 2017 to take care of holistic development of these high numbers of street children in Dhaka include: the promotion of the establishment of full boarding rehabilitation centers and homes, the development of education curriculum that equips these children with basic life skills knowledge, vocational skills, and rehabilitation from drugs and substances abuse (UNICEF Bangladesh, 2019).

Across Africa, there are documented evidences by a number of bodies and researchers including the United Nations Children’s Fund (2019) confirming that there is no capital city or urban town that doesn’t have street children who account for a given percentage of the residents of any given city/urban center. The situation is very worse in war ridden countries like Egypt, Libya, Sothern Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria where the number of street children account to as high as 25% of the populations in urban centers/cities/towns. The African Development Bank among other agencies pro Africa green cities’ development came up with a number of projects that were aimed at ensuring that street

children in major Africa countries like South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana are addressed appropriately but there is very little achievements that have been made (UNHCHR, 2019). In Nigeria for example, despite the fact that various agencies have been using the street children for all the wrong reasons, their numbers have been increasing with no one seeming to take care of their needs; portraying a very wanting picture in the continent. This is despite the fact that a number of resources have been allocated to handle these street families by both the governments and international bodies. Blamed on such wanting ending are issues like corruption and lack of good will from the government agencies and other stakeholders. For the few countries like Ethiopia a number of organizations have been addressing the issues of these street children by running a number of projects like nutrition, provision of basic education, training on life skills, training on vocational skills and other projects but only the faith based organizations have been effective. These are some of the gaps that were addressed by this study.