Kisumu is a port city in western Kenya, close to Lake Victoria. Nearly 400,000 people live here and it is growing rapidly as families move here in search of opportunity.
Even though Kisumu is rich in natural resources, its once thriving industry has largely relocated to Nairobi or Mombasa. Many families live in poverty and have very limited access to employment and basic social services. There is a large number of children without parental care in the region.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kisumu.
Most people in Kisumu make a living by growing their own food and going fishing, which makes for a very insecure livelihood. In the city, unemployment is high and most people seek to make a living through informal work. In both cases, Kenyans in the region often face a dire economic situation. In fact, up to 45% of families here live on less than 1 USD per day, meaning they cannot afford two meals a day. This is particularly dangerous for the youngest in the region as malnutrition and slow growth are far too common amongst children. Furthermore, in the ever-growing city of Kisumu, there is a widespread lack of sanitation and proper housing.
Kisumu District is one of the areas in the country that is severely affected by HIV/AIDS. At an estimated 24%, HIV prevalence in the region is the highest in all of Kenya. Consequently, many children have lost parental care. When parents die young, this often means that a child, usually the oldest sibling, becomes the head of the family. These children then do everything they can to put food on the table, which usually means they drop out of education and work to try and raise some money. This creates a dangerous cycle of poverty for many children in the region.