A groundbreaking training pack involved more than 200 street children as researchers, supporting their input into a UN consultation and participation in the 2016 Street Child Games.

Impacts

  • The researchers developed a Knowledge Exchange Training Pack on involving street children in research and policy dialogue. It was used to support 203 African street children and youth in providing testimonies for the Africa Consultation Report submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • The report will inform the UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations, due for publication in 2017, which is expected to have global reach in upholding the rights of children and youth in street situations.
  • The training pack was used to support youth participation in the Street Child Games in Rio de Janeiro in March 2016 – uniting up to 100 former street children from 18 countries to take part in Olympic-themed sports, a festival of arts and the Street Child Congress.
  • Several hundred more street-connected young people from 25 organisations across 18 countries also benefited from the resources, participating in knowledge exchange activities alongside the participants travelling to the Street Child Games.
  • The project team established an effective partnership with StreetInvest, a UK-based charity for street children and youth, and also established a network of community-based organisations across nine African countries.

"I have lived on the streets all my life. I was born on the streets and have grown up on the streets to this age, I have survived... People came up to me and said that they have changed the way they thought about street children in a positive way, so I think they will do something." (Jonathan, Accra)

Street children, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (Photo: Robin Hammond, StreetInvest)
Street children, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (Photo: Robin Hammond, StreetInvest)

About the research

Street children are one of the most visible signs of poverty and marginalised communities, but lack representation in policymaking, or society in general. However, taking street children's input into consideration makes it much more likely that policies address key issues and are effective. The research project Growing up on the Streets enabled street children and youth to participate as researchers and gather data on the daily experiences of urban life.

Since 2012 Growing up on the Streets has worked with 545 street children and youth, aged 14-20 years old, in the cities of Accra (Ghana), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Bukavu (DR Congo), gathering data on the changing conditions and decisions of street children and youth as they grow up. The project supported them to become researchers on their own lives; they were trained in basic ethnographic methods to work within their social networks and collect observations on the experience of living on the street.

The participants identified 10 important 'capabilities' or aspects of life – such as receiving support from friends, having shelter and enough food, getting an income or being resilient – as a framework for the observations and discussions. The research builds our understanding of lives in extreme poverty, informing the policy of governments and international agencies through the voices of young people themselves.