Implementation of Government Social Protection Programmes in mitigating the challenges faced by street children in Zimbabwe
The plight of street children has become a major social concern. These children encounter psychological, economic and social challenges in their quest to make ends meet in the streets they perceive as “safe haven”. Drawing from a mixed method approach that triangulates surveys, interviews, focus groups and literature sources, this study explores the implementation of government social protection programmes in addressing the challenges faced by street children in Harare Metropolitan Province in Zimbabwe. Using a human rights approach to address the challenges encountered by street children, social protection programmes and institutional care were instituted to “protect” and “promote” livelihoods of street children. Nevertheless, social protection programmes have attracted severe criticism because they fail to curb the challenges encountered by children staying in the streets. Findings of this study show that children living in the streets have partially benefitted from some of the social protection programmes, such as Free Treatment Organization which provides free treatment from public hospitals and clinics. Findings revealed further that street children are still being illtreated, do not access formal or informal education, lack basic needs, and do not have birth certificates which impedes them from applying for grants or national identification cards. This paper recommends that government should assess the needs of street children separately because their situation and social environment are different from other vulnerable children.
Key Words: Street children, poverty and inequalities, coping strategies, vulnerability and human development