The plight of street children and the need for effective participatory communication between street children and various stake holders : a case study at the fountain of hope in Lusaka

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Mumbi, Rogers Maximillian Mulenga
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This exposition is a result of the Researcher's three months attachment to the Fountain of Hope Children's Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, during the last quarter of the year 2005. The attachment was in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Communications for Development at the University of Zambia. The concern, which prompted the researcher to undertake this study was the presence of street and vulnerable children at Fountain of Hope (FOH) and in Lusaka generally, their rapid increase in numbers and the depressing conditions under which they live. Secondly, there was an apparent lack of effective communication and participatory strategies designed to assist the street and vulnerable children to take part in the decisions of their various destinies, by Government, FOH and other stakeholders. The exposition further shows that previous studies of street children indicate that the unfortunate situation in which these children find themselves is due to many factors, the main ones are the HIV/AIDS pandemic, urbanisation, and industrialisation, migration of people to the towns, poor management of the county's economy by politicians, which have all impacted negatively on the Zambian people. The servicing of the foreign debt was another factor, for the process reduced the resources available for development, which resulted in low expenditure on social services, such as education and health. This situation gave rise to falling standards of living.The recommendations emanating from previous studies on street children emphasise the need to provide food, clothing, and shelter and in some cases, how they tried to reintegrate the children back into their families. In this study however, the researcher examines the role of communication and participatory strategies in empowering the street and vulnerable children.The methodologies used to gather information at the FOH are also discussed. They include the non-experimental design of in depth interviews, focus group discussions, questionnaires,documentary search, staff volunteered information and general observations.The findings at FOH and the investigations in the relevant Government ministries and other stakeholders show that besides the provision of basic needs there is a serious lack of effective communication and participatory strategies in the policies and implementation of decisions pertaining to the plight of street and vulnerable children.The findings further show that, usually, there are inadequate financial resources at FOH, but when they are available, the management appears to be unable to maximise the use of these meagre resources.As for the Government side, the problem appears to be that of lack of political will, wrong priorities in fund allocations, which seriously denies the street and vulnerable children basic rights. There is also the absence of a well thought out innovative, technical skills programme based on the abundant natural resources, which would result in sustainable livelihood for the children and their families.
Street children -- Lusaka -- Zambia , Communication , Participation -- Fountain of hope -- Lusaka