Manara - Qatar Research Repository
10.4324_9781003143840-51_chapterpdf.pdf (145.94 kB)

A genealogy of policies on poor and vulnerable children and youth in Kenya

Download (145.94 kB)
submitted on 2023-09-11, 11:43 and posted on 2023-09-13, 11:23 authored by Elizabeth Ngutuku

Policymaking processes often rely on specifc knowledge, images or frames and discursive mechanisms on the identity, needs and rights of those targeted by policies (see, Chapter 8 in this volume for a detailed discussion). This chapter’s policy histories or policy chronology of children in Africa examines how various discourses on poor and vulnerable children and youth connect in diferent moments, locating their intersections and connections. Drawing on various texts from Kenya while seeking hypothetical generalizations for Africa, this discussion is structured around key non-linear historical periods. These periods act as signposts for understanding the discourses and representations of children’s needs, rights and identity. The periods are the late colonial and early independence period (1952–70) where the needs of young people were confated with discipline and used as weapons for control; the period from the 1980s when the image of a street child was seen as a source of shame; and the period beginning from the 1990s when what I call an ‘HIV/AIDS afraid sensibility’ infuenced policies and interventions for poor and vulnerable children by raising national and political psyche (and policy narratives) across Africa. I complete the analysis by merging these periods into the contemporary moment starting in the year 2000. The argument is that the category Orphaned and Vulnerable Child (OVC) became and continue to be the dominant way of thinking about child poverty and vulnerability. As such, this chapter explores how various discourses connect in different moments and when a specific discourse may draw from, re-member (or fatten out) previous or another discourse. Instead of defining a poor and vulnerable child, different ways and contexts in which the category emerged are presented including how child poverty and vulnerability were imagined. The case of Kenya specifically exposes the complex mix of the discursive policy system on the welfare of poor and vulnerable children and youth in Africa.

Other Information

Published in: Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa
See chapter on publisher's website:



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This chapter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

Geographic coverage


Usage metrics

    Manara - Qatar Research Repository


    Ref. manager