Street children of Mwanza: a situation analysis.
There were approximately 240 children in Mwanza, Tanzania, as of July 1993 who both lived and slept on the street. This paper reports findings from a UNICEF-funded study began in September 1992 to understand the children's lives, histories, present situations, and future aspirations with the goal of being able to better plan and implement an appropriate response to their needs. Study findings are based upon input from 108 boys and 14 girls, 95% of whom were aged 9-18 years; the remaining 5% were younger. 80% had no present link with their family. Poverty, the influx of urban newcomers, increasingly unstable sexual and cohabitation patterns among adults, the low economic and social position of women, violence or neglect at home, and the effect of AIDS-related morbidity and mortality among parents are the most significant reasons why these children wound up on the streets. Their situation is discussed with regard to shelter, health, sex behavior, education, employment, discrimination, and emotional needs. Recommendations for action are presented followed by quantifiable findings summarized in an appendix. The study's most important conclusion is that the well-being of children is inextricably linked with a respect for their rights. It is clear that children's rights are frequently disregarded. Welfare and piecemeal approaches outside the rubric of children's rights only go so far and ultimately fail. In the best interest of children, it is imperative that children be listened to and genuine partnerships built which are based upon trust and respect.