There are more than 18,000 children living and begging on the streets in Uganda, a survey by Retrak Uganda and Dwelling Places has revealed. Mbale district tops the lists with the highest number of street children. According to the findings at least 578 children live on the streets in Mbale while another 4,039 work on the streets.
Jinja comes second with 3180 and 583 children working and living on the streets respectively. Kampala has 3476 children with 2,066 living and another 1410 working on its streets. Iganga had a total of 3075 street children.
The main aim of the survey was to determine the number of children living on streets. The survey that lasted for six months running from 2017-2018 covered Jinja, Mbale, Napak and Kampala districts.
Harriet Mudondo, the Deputy Director Child Welfare in Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), says the number of children on the streets cannot decrease because many of them flock to the city to make money.
The survey also shows that most of the children that are on the streets in the four districts come from central and Eastern Uganda.
Josephine Tusingire Karumira, the Project Manager Retrak, says the survey shows that most children on the streets are either Baganda or Karamojongs.
Moses Binoga, the Commissioner Anti-Trafficking Unit in the Internal Affairs Ministry, says the problem of children living on the streets needs to be handled in an organized way instead of reacting whenever the president complains about it.
Data from Uganda Police Force shows that last year 87 child trafficking cases were intercepted between the Kampala-Karamojong corridor.
17 of these cases were taken to court and only nine convictions were made. Women are reported to have been behind more than fifty percent of the trafficking cases.
Binoga attributes the low number of arrests to lack of sensitization on the side of some police officers. “Some police officers just intercept the children but don’t take time to investigate where they are from and who brought them,” he said.
The survey also showed that despite efforts to evict street children from towns, the number of children on the streets is not reducing because of the organized mafia organizations that return them. Damon Kawamara, the Executive Director Dwelling Places, says they discovered that trafficking children was a very profitable business in the country.
“We discovered that a child begging on the streets has become a business. Some people earn more than people who sit in their offices working from 8:00am – 5:00pm,” she said.
According to Dwelling Places, every street child on the streets is supposed to handover Shillings 20,000 to the people who bring them daily. If someone had ten children on the streets of Kampala, this would amount to Shillings 200,000 daily and 6 million every month.
Mondo Kyateka, the Commissioner Children Affairs, says the number of children on Uganda’s streets never goes down because people make the streets sweet.
The survey recommends the passing of district ordinances to hold parents and guardians responsible for their children living on the streets. It also calls for multi-sectoral cooperation involving local governments and NGOs to help remove children off the streets.