Poverty and Streetism: The frightening connection

Surviving on less than one dollar per day isn’t alien to most families in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is what the World Health Organization refers to as poverty and being the main canker to development among countries within this region of the world.

The World Health Organization puts the number of poor people in the world at approximately 1.2 billion. The dire effects of poverty are being manifested on the major cities and streets of such countries.

Children, who are the most visible form of the effects of poverty have shadowed the various boulevards. Parents’ inability to provide basic human needs; food, shelter, and clean water for these kids, leave them with no option but to take to the streets. There, they are compelled to do menial jobs such as selling sachet water, carrying the goods of businessmen, waste pickers, car washers, etc. However, many of these children especially the ones who are unable to carry loads end up begging. The girls besides the selling of water and gums, sell their bodies too.

What is more frightening is the number of risks factors these young and innocent children encounter on the streets. They are exposed to bad weather conditions, theft, rape, child trafficking, harassment, and in some instances, death.

The UNICEF estimates the number of streets children in Africa to be around 30 million. Accra in Ghana alone has approximately 90,000 of these children loitering its streets. Research also indicates that 75% of these street children in Accra had migrated from other parts of the country in search of money and work. Only 5% had been born on the streets. One can only imagine what the numbers are in other parts of the country.

So as the world seeks to eliminate poverty a decade from now as stated in the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), the extent of damage caused especially to children cannot be ignored. Collective responsibility of all and sundry will be required if we want to end child streetism.

Written by: Duncan Alidza

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