In 1991, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU instituted the Day of the African Child (DAC) in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where hundreds of children were massacred.
As a result, the day is celebrated on 16th June every year. This year’s theme is the Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.
Humanitarian crises result from various factors or events or from a combination of several factors, and pose significant risks and threats to the lives, safety, security, health or general wellbeing of a large number of people at a time, with little or no capacity to cope with the impacts of the crises.
Humanitarian crises may be natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and health epidemics. They may also be man-made, such as armed conflicts, tensions, or strife, or the result of human error or action, such as large scale industrial accidents, fire outbreaks, and exposure to different forms of violence and disease outbreak.
Humanitarian crises may also come in the form of complex emergencies, that is, a combination of both man-made crises and natural disasters.
Some of the humanitarian crisis in Kenya include drought which covers about 80% of the Kenyan land being classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL). Floods are the leading hydro-meteorological disaster in Kenya affecting 5% of the population. In addition, flood-related fatalities constitute 60% of the total disaster-related deaths in the country.
Fires are a major occurrence in Kenya as a result of poor planning of infrastructure and under development. They largely occur in industrial areas and informal settlements such as slums. Due to the large populations living in the informal settlement, a single case of fire usually engulfs a number of houses displacing large numbers of people at a time.
These crises often lead to violations of children’s rights. These violations include failure to provide education, health or an adequate standard of living for children to enjoy their rights, and the effects of these violations may affect boys and girls differently. For boys, a great extent be are subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, child soldiers; while girls often suffer slavery, sexual exploitation like forced marriages, physical and sexual violations like rape and forced prostitution during or after a crisis.
Research shows that 1 in 5 children in Africa lives in humanitarian settings. This includes situations of natural disasters, health emergencies, and man-made disasters.
In Kenya over 500,000 children are living in a humanitarian situation as follows;
- There are 468,261 refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya 56% are children.
- Conflict continues to rob millions of girls and boys of their childhood.
- Acute malnutrition prevalence rate remains critical, at between 15 and 30% in Mandera, Turkana, Samburu and parts of Baringo and Marsabit
- Disease outbreaks continue to affect vulnerable populations in Kenya, with type 2 poliovirus reported in Nairobi, cholera reported in 20 counties and measles outbreaks reported in six counties.
Here in Kenya, the Commemoration of this day started on Friday 7th June 2019 with a build-up event in Kapenguria in West Pokot, a County known for several humanitarian actions such as human conflict, drought, floods and disease.
The main event is planned to take place on 16th June 2019 in Tana River County which is known for the volatile, drought and disease outbreaks during and in the aftermath of an emergency.