Zambia: Government asked to supplement non-governmental street kids projects
by Mervin Syafunko
NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations that support street children say they are unable to cope with the growing number of desperate children and have asked the government to supplement their efforts. Children In Need (CHIN), a co-ordinator for organisations that care for desperate children estimates that there are over 45,000 street children in the country.
CHIN liaison officer Louis Mwewa said the 51 organisations that support street children did not have the capacity to take care of the growing numbers.
“According to research . . . there are 45,000 street children in Zambia. This problem is a critical one which needs the attention of everyone - professionals, NGOs and government,” he said.
Zambia Red Cross Society, which cares for over 5,000 street children in Lusaka alone, said its budget was too small to meet all their demands.
The society runs a drop-in centre for street children in Lusaka’s Garden compound with the support of Street Kids International.
“Each day, we have 100 children dropping in at the centre. We spend about K 3.5 million on rations and other logistics every month. At times, we have to cut down on meals because the money is not adequate,” programme officer Petronella Mayeya said.
The society defines street children as those between the ages of seven and 17 who spend most of their time on the streets, looking for piece-work or loitering. Those above 17 are considered to be street youths and are eligible for credit schemes offered by the society. About 80 youths have been granted credit under the scheme so far.