Street families' tricks for survival - Daily Nation

Nairobi street families adopt survival tactics

Sunday February 18 2018

Street families.

Street families board a bus in Nairobi on December 28, 2016 as they were given free transport to a Christmas celebration in Wangige. Street families fill many Nairobi streets. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

Nairobi, once an unrivalled green city in the sun, is now chocking with street families who have invaded various alleys, streets and pavements in the city.

The street families have taken over the capital city with Kimathi Street, Moi Avenue, Aga Khan Walk and Tom Mboya Avenue being among the worst affected stretches in the city centre.


Street families have become a bustling untaxed industry, raking in millions of shillings every year.

Children are tasked with begging for money on the streets day and night.

Data from City Hall show that Nairobi streets could have more than 6,000 street children annually and reports say they each make on average Sh500 a day, making it a multi-million shilling sector.

Some people living on the streets come up with all sorts of tricks, ranging from having sick children or people suffering from a terrible disease accompany them, or claiming they have lost their family, or have gotten lost in town and would like to get money to travel back home.

Along Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue, a middle-aged man usually walks with a loaf of bread begging for cash to buy tea.

There are also others who sit at strategic corners, claiming they have scary diseases, and have a group of people around them sympathising with their situation to draw the attention of passers-by.


According to the Department of Special Programmes, Nairobi is one of the towns in the country with the highest number of street families running into thousands.

They have been blamed for increase in petty crime and muggings in the city and for being a nuisance because of their begging habits.

There are currently 250,000 to 300,000 people living on the streets countrywide, the department says, even though the government in 2003 established the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund.

The then Minister for Local Government Karisa Maitha said the Fund would help reduce the number of street families. But not much has been achieved.

Many street children are drug addicts who sniff glue, smoke bhang and inject other hard drugs and have been blamed for petty crime and muggings.


Two weeks ago, the Nairobi County Government launched an operation to flush out street families from the Central Business District.

The operation, which saw more than 200 stre