Devolution Creates New Challenges For Rural Children, Youth

Devolution is disrupting rural lives and presenting new lifestyle challenges for both parents and their children.

ChildFund Kenya says devolution is fast turning traditionally rural towns into urban centres without adequate infrastructure and services while exposing children to safety issues and youth to drugs.

Speaking when ChildFund Kenya launched a three-year strategic plan yesterday, Country Director Chege Ngugi said besides hardship areas where children suffer various deprivations, ChildFund Kenya is strategically focusing on urban areas targeting highly populated informal settlements around major cities and municipalities.

Mr Ngugi said most urban centres stimulated by devolution lack spatial planning and many communities are finding themselves living in deprived conditions. He said this urbanization has brought in challenges of displacements to give way to constructions.

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“Urbanization through counties has brought in new challenges as a result of displacements,” said Mr Ngugi. “Lifestyle changes to more urban setting is exposing more children to protection issues and youth to drugs. A good example is Emali town which now is for the first time grappling with street children.”

Through the strategic plan, ChildFund Kenya seeks to reach more than 50,000 children in 26 counties between 2019 and 2021, through expected funding of Ksh5.6 billion ($55 million).

Mr Ngugi said the strategy covers the journey of a child from birth to young adulthood across three stages which include infants and young children; children and young adolescents (6 to 14 years) and adolescents and young adults (15 to 24 years).

Mr Ngugi said ChildFund Kenya will focus its activities in rural ASAL areas and informal urban settlements. In ASALs harsh climatic conditions and unpredictable weather patterns expose children to risks such as malnutrition, disease outbreaks, and poor access to water and sanitation services.

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