Skip to content

Living on the Streets During a Pandemic

The lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, has had drastic effects on children and young people who live on the streets of many African cities. Their lives, even in “normal” times, are marked by ongoing hardship and tenacity. A project called “Growing up on the Streets” in three African cities: Accra, Ghana; Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Harare, Zimbabwe aims to provide insights into their daily lives – and their struggles and coping strategies – so that policies can be better informed and, ultimately, transform their lives. In Harare, these young people are spread across the city, sharing space in alleyways, market places, low-income settlements, or on wasteland. Precise numbers are difficult to determine, but in Harare alone across three years of Growing up on the Streets, 246 street children and youth have been involved. 63% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. Street children and youth are among the most deprived; their lack of identity documents and an address excludes them from access to what safety nets exist, for example in the form of welfare or social protection programmes, which almost always target households.