Terre des Hommes Netherlands in partnership with Action for Children in Conflict (AfCIC) are implementing the Time to Play project. This is a two-year project whose overall goal is to contribute towards the creation of a safe environment for children aged 5-17 to play, learn, experience, and express themselves in Kiambu County, Kenya.
The population of Kenya is estimated at 47.6 million, according to 2019 census data, with 21.9 million (46.1%) being children. 18.3 million are children of school age. In 2020, nearly 10.2 million students were enrolled in primary schools. The number slightly increased from approximately 10.1 million in the previous year. Primary education in Kenya begins at the ages of 5-7 years old. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics report (2021), nearly 1.8 million children and adolescents aged 6-17 years are out of school. This potentially abusive and exploitative situation is summarised below:
Abuse and exploitation of Children in Thika Kenya’s former industrial hub is rampant (according a recent report by Childline Kenya, between October and December 2021 there were 391 cases of Child abuse reported from different parts of Kiambu County, 116 were of child neglect, 100 physical and 76 sexual abuse). This is attributed to the fact that the town is a few minutes’ drive from Nairobi meaning that most of the problems of the big city end up being sorted out in Thika.
Thika also happens to be the center for people arriving from Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya’s Rift Valley, Eastern, Northern and Central regions bringing in thousands of people from the countryside who do not have means of income and thus exposing Children to exploitation. With the incoming population cultural dynamics are introduced to the local people in terms of language, norms, values and practices (cultural diversity). Potentially, this exerts some tension with regard to co-existence and difficulties embracing diversity. If not checked, ethnicity and ethnic tensions are bound to emerge which would have negative effects on children. Established as an agricultural town over a hundred years ago, the town thrived during the coffee boom in the 70’s; however, in recent years, all the migrant communities from all over East and Central Africa who were working in the coffee plantations have been rendered jobless, another scenario that has aggravated the abuse and exploitation of Children.
Recent economic melt-down as a result of COVID-19 among other causes, unemployment, internal displacement, domestic violence and poverty have all contributed to the existence of a very unsafe abusive and exploitative environment for Children. At the same time, there are no facilities, spaces or services where vulnerable children would access support and recreation, popular reading, and peer interaction, lacking thus the “being a Child” opportunity.
Due to the harsh economic times and the fact that parents/caregivers have to fend for the family thus leaving most Children at home on their own and at the mercy of abusers who take advantage of the absence of parents/guardians. They entice the children with food in order to sexually abuse, physically molest them with some of the children disappearing never to be seen again.
Much as the government has prohibited extra tuition, the school schedule is yet another hostile impediment to the enjoyment of children rights; children leave home as early as 5.30 am so as to be in school at 6.30, along the way to school they are exposed to danger, exploitation and abuse while at school the timetable stretches to early evening leaving Children with no space for play and leisure.
The limited knowledge or evidence on how play contributes to enhanced protection or safety of children has not helped the situation. As a result, key actors are not compelled to support and promote play for children.
Time to Play Project aims to enhance the protection and safety of Children through participation in play (sports for peace), social skills learning and cultural activities
The Time to play project is enhancing the protection and safety of children through participation in play (sports for peace), social skills learning and cultural activities; Children's ability to appreciate cultural diversity and to express themselves through arts; and increased commitment by county, national government, community, caregivers and stakeholders in supporting safe play for children. We aim to conduct the following activities under each outcome.
The following results have been achieved to date;