A census conducted b y Chisomo Children Club on the number of connected street children in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe shows that there are over 5 000, but the majority are in the capital.
Chisomo, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) which deals with issues of street children, carried out the headcount exercise in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe to know the actual number of children found in the streets.
The headcount found that there are about 2 389 street children in Lilongwe compared to 1 776 in Blantyre.
However, Chisomo Children’s Club has indicated the need for indepth research to understand the reasons behind the high number of street children in the capital city compared to the commercial city.
Presenting the findings mat the stakeholders meeting held in Lilongwe attended by Malawi Police and Ministry of Gender, Women, Children and Disability officials, among others, Chisomo Children Club executive director Charles Gwengwe said the increasing number of street children in the cities can be a source of criminal activities; therefore, there is need for concerned Malawians to intervene.
He said the headcount has also revealed that one in every five street children are girls who are prone to abuse by fellow street children or adults. Gwengwe has, therefore, pointed out that Malawians should stop giving alms to street children to reduce their number as Chisomo Children’s Club has found their interventions have a proper home.
“It is high time we dealt with the problem once and for all before it gets worse. When aninnocent child is on the street for a long time, he loses that innocence and becomes dangerous. Giving the children alms is contributing to their stay in the streets,” Gwengwe said.
In his remarks, Lilongwe City mayor Willie Chapondera urged the stakeholders to find a lasting solution and interventions to deal with the increasing number of street children. He said the findings of the headcount would help government to develop a strategic plan to guide the intervention for the street children. Ministry of Gender has failed to implement a nationwide exercise to remove children from the streets due to lack of coordination among stakeholders.