An Assessment of the Emerging Networks of Support for Street Children in Nigeria
Nigeria, being asignatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(UNCRC, 1989) promulgated the Child Rights Act 2003, which aimed at
ameliorating the condition of street children in Nigeria. In line with this,
there are emerging networks of support for street children. The extent to
which these support networks are fulfilling their mission mandates is not yet known. Hence, this paper attempts to bridge this gap by focusing on the available networks of support for these children, who were mainly on their own, and often left to face the horrors of street life without recourse to their significant others. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were employed to collect primary data for the study. Study findings showed that Children ‘of’ the street enjoyed more supports from community members in Kaduna (56.6%) and Port Harcourt (59.0%) than in Lagos (19.0%). Although, few NGOs now work with the street children, their impacts are yet to be felt because of lack of requisite resources. The government through the Social Welfare Department also provides some assistance to street children; their programmes were not attractive enough to the children. On the whole, the children’s ranking of the ‘support providers’ shows that the support provided by the homeless adults on the street is most preferred (μ=3.26) while the government agencies were least on this ranking scale (μ=1.78).The study concluded that, despite the global shift from eradication of street children to providing support for them right on the streets, this paradigm shift has very weak roots in Nigeria. Hence, children ‘of’ the street are still socially excluded in Nigeria. This has serious implication for the future of the country since it could lead to the proliferation of street gangs who are often involved in various crimes and ready instruments of violence. Increase in the population of street children and possibly street gangs could become serious economic burden to the nation. It is therefore important to attract support to the children ‘of’ the street in order to reverse this problem.