• Elli Emilia Nieminen
This is a qualitative research about the experiences of migrant children and youth living on the street of Accra, the capital of Ghana. The purpose of the study is to find out how independent migrant children living on the streets of Accra describe the challenges they face and dreams they have, and how these experiences and opinions reflect on street children work and NGOs that work with street children. The data was collected by interviewing migrant children and youth living on the streets of Accra and by keeping a field diary which includes descriptions of encounters, conversations and events that involved street children and youth and individuals who work with street children.

Ghanaian children migrate independently for various, often interlinked reasons, and many of the migrant children end up living on the streets. More than 60 000 children live on the streets of Accra, and 65 per cent of these children are migrants. Street children and youth of Accra face challenges in terms of poor living conditions, lack of decent work, harassment and abuse. Girls are sexually vulnerable. Thus many of them become mothers at an early age. The street children and youth dream about education and decent work, and some dream about returning home.

The government of Ghana is unable to adequately intervene in the street children phenomenon. Thus NGOs have the primary responsibility for assisting street children and youth. NGOs, however, are often funded by international or foreign donors which is not a problem-free set-up: sustainability of the work and participation of the children and youth are compromised. NGOs can also be associated with exploitation of power and position.

If sustainable solutions are sought, development cannot be externally determined or conditioned, and local alternatives should be valued. This means that the government, communities and families should be involved in street children work, and international donors / agencies should be aware of what actually happens in the field. A holistic approach to street children work should be taken: children’s material, physical, emotional and intellectual needs should be acknowledged. The children and youth also have a right to participate in the planning and implementation of projects that influence their lives. In fact, sustainable solutions cannot be found without participation. Preventive work should include community education and community-based child protection strategies. In general, there should be a greater focus on advocacy for street children and child protection, and an open discussion on ethics is needed within the NGO field.
Publication date24 Jun 2013
Number of pages63
ID: 77869439