The prevalence of street children in Kumasi Metropolis and strategies to tackle the problem

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The problem of Street children has become a problem of worldwide occurrence. It is, however, severe in developing countries where economic problems have incapacitated nations and parents of the children to take care of their children. Ghana, as one of the developing countries, is no exception. As rapid urbanization, widespread poverty (both urban and rural) and economic depression characterize the Ghanaian Society, the phenomenon of street children is becoming a serious problem. Children are seen engaging in various informal activities in market centers, streets and transport terminals of major and secondary cities of Ghana. Kumasi, the second largest city of Ghana, is hosting large number of such children. The aim of this study is to identify the underlying reason why children take to the street and recommend strategies to reverse the current trend at which the problem is growing. To achieve these objectives, a well-structured questionnaire was administered to a sample of street children who are operating in Kumasi. A total of 140 street children were interviewed. Institutional survey was also conducted to know the level of current intervention programs, the level of achievement and major problems militating against their performance. The study established that both social and economic factors are responsible for street children phenomenon in Kumasi. The greater majority of the street children are on the street because of the inability of their parents to take care of their needs. The children arc therefore either sent to the street by their parents to supplement the household income through income from the street work, or they take to the street by themselves to satisfy their own needs. A section of the children are those who had lost one or both of them and thus have no one to take care of them. Polygamy (multiple marriages), broken-home, child neglect and abuse are among the social factors precipitating in street children phenomenon. Street children are from households with large family sizes, due to both high fertility rate and multiple marriages. The study further established that street children in Kumasi are composed more of rural migrants, mainly from the poverty stricken Northern Savannah Regions. Furthermore the majority of the children are school dropouts, mainly for fee related reasons. The study recognises that the current intervention programmes are grossly inadequate. The NGOs, which claim to work with street children, could not realize their objectives due to financial and human resource constraints. Attempt to solve the problem of street children calls for both long-term and short-term strategies. Short-term strategies to help the children who are already on the Street; and long-term strategies to tackle the root cause of the problem. The problem of Street children, however, cannot be solved single-handed. The combined and coordinated effort of both governmental and humanitarian organizations is required.
A Thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in Partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2000