300,000 Ghanaians live, work on streets

Otiko Djaba, Minister of Gender,Children and Social Protection

Otiko Djaba, Minister of Gender,Children and Social Protection

About 300,000 persons currently live and work on the streets of Ghana, recent statistics from the Department of Social Welfare has indicated.

The number represents more than twice the figure recorded in 2011 which stood at 60,495 and comprised migrant children, urban dwellers and adults among other smaller vulnerable groups.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba who made the disclosure at a news conference in Accra on Tuesday, bemoaned the phenomenon and the need for pragmatic steps to be taken to address it.

In that regard, she said, the ministry would embark on a comprehensive campaign beginning next year, to rid these persons off the streets through a process of identifying the numbers, profiling and re-integrating them with their parents, caregivers and community.

“Operation get off the street now for a better life” according to her, would ensure that “every citizen has improved access to quality social services and livelihood activities to reflect both international and national obligations such as the Sustainable Development Goals.”

It is targeted at groups including head porters, hawkers, child and adult beggars, persons with disabilities, begging contractors, displaced persons and families living on streets.

Ms. Djaba said the project will be replicated in all ten regions of the country and implemented in three phases namely short, medium and long term.

The first phase would see the mapping of hotspots where the menace thrives, data collection and sensitisation of the public and targeted groups, skills training and designation of shelters across the regions for affected persons.

The second and third on the other hand, would seek to link street persons to social protection interventions such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Free SHS, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) among other flagship government programmes to provide employment opportunities.

The minister said, the street was not a place for sustainable living “because its ill-effects and prevalence could only put Ghana in a bad light in the near future”.

She called on the general public including faith based organisations, traditional leaders, donor partners and the media to support the initiative to eradicate streetism in the country.

Reverend Father Andrew Campbell, the Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra, said the spate of streetism in the country reflected the breakdown of family systems in the country.

“I have been in Ghana for the past 47 years and the love for materialism at the expense of our children is just too high. Parents do not have time and do not care about their children and that is very bad,” he lamented.

He called for more social workers to volunteer in sensitising street children on good moral practices to secure the nation’s future.

The Director for Social Welfare, Mr. Daniel Nonah explained that “the exercise is not to apply force on street persons to clear them but we will be on the streets with them, talk to them and convince them of better opportunities to embrace than living on the streets”.

By Abigail Annoh        

 

 

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