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Hundreds of street children displaced after devastating floods in Kenya

Updates • Kenya • May 2024

In Nairobi, street children living in slum settlements are being disproportionally impacted by current heavy rains and destructive floods. The floods have struck communities near riverbanks and the surrounding areas, claiming lives, destroying homes, and leaving hundreds of children and families displaced.

More than 169 people are known to have died, 185,000 have been displaced, and 91 are missing due to the devastating floods across Kenya, Reuters reports.

Kenya Hit by One of the Most Catastrophic Floods in Decades

Kenya and its east African neighbours have been hit by torrential rains and floods since March. Stronger than usual rains have caused the floods that have been some of the most catastrophic in the region in recent years. Among the most tragic events has been a dam collapse that washed away homes and cut off the roads near Nairobi.

As the rains continue, the Kenyan government on 2nd the May ordered people living near 178 dams and reservoirs to evacuate. The “long rains” season characterised by heavy rains is expected to continue into June and the officials expect the situation to further worsen.

These devastating rains are caused by a mix of factors, including the country’s seasonal weather patterns and the natural weather phenomena ‘El Nino’, which warms the Pacific Ocean and changes the routes for storms. However, scientists from World Weather Attribution found that the climate change caused by human activities made the rain season last year up to two times more intense. Human-induced climate change could be among the factors that significantly exacerbate current situation.

The Situation for Street Children in Nairobi

The situation is now critical in three of the slum communities near the Nairobi River where Toybox-supported projects run by our partner Pendekezo Letu (PKL) take place. So far, 143 children have been displaced, and 49 lives have been lost, tragically including a 5-month-old baby. Two of the young people PKL supports are currently missing and there are also reports of street children drowning whilst retrieving scrap metals from the floods.

For those left behind, basic necessities have become scarce. The flooding has exacerbated the already challenging conditions faced by these vulnerable communities. As well as losing their homes, communities are also experiencing the trauma of seeing their homes, safe spaces and loved ones lost.

A young person supported by PKL standing by her house washed away by the flood

Due to the floods, schools in slum communities are being used as rescue centres and street children currently cannot access education. Whilst schools were supposed to re-open this week, on the 3rd May the president of Kenya announced that school re-opening is postponed indefinitely. Many street children and caregivers have seen their livelihood opportunities washed away. Roads are impassable, bridges have been destroyed, and footpaths are unsafe. Street children whose livelihoods depend on scrap metal sale cannot access the market to trade, making providing for their families during this time impossible.

For these vulnerable communities, the devastating floods might have further consequences and highly increase the risk of cholera outbreaks, food insecurity and post-harvest losses.

What is Toybox Doing in Response?

Toybox is working with our long-term partner PKL who are supporting street children, their families, and communities in the urban slum areas of Nairobi and Kiambu counties to help cover the transport costs of relocating street children and families to safety and provide emergency essential items, including:

  • Rain clothes and gumboots to the rescue team
  • Sanitation and hygiene kits
  • Food
  • Blankets and mattresses

We at Toybox believe that together, through the power of prayer, we can make a positive impact in Nairobi. Please take this moment to offer your prayers for the safety and well-being of those affected by the flooding as well as the PKL team who are working tirelessly to provide emergency supplies to 68 families and 143 street children and young people affected in the communities where we work.

If you can, you can make donation to directly support our work with PKL in Nairobi here. Your support is invaluable and will enable the team to help those who need them most urgently.

Floods in Nairobi are one of multiple cases when human-induced climate change seriously threatens the lives and rights of street children. It increases their vulnerability and limits children’s access to food, water, education, and protection. You can read more about how climate change affects street children around the world here.

Thank you so much for your unwavering compassion and support for Toybox’s mission, which is making a meaningful impact in the protection of lives of countless children living and working on some of the world’s most dangerous streets.

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