Street Work is essential to gain accurate data on street-connected children

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Global estimates place the number of street-connected children worldwide at 150 million – but this figure, although often quoted is not actually based on evidence or data. Even national-level data can be difficult to obtain and as such, street-connected children remain deprioritised on government and others’ agendas.

StreetInvest, with its partners, developed one of the lead methodologies to capture data on street-connected children – observational headcounts – and we have been conducting headcounts globally for over a decade.

In October 2021, StreetInvest’s regional coordinating partner for West Africa, Muslim Family Counselling Services (MFCS), worked with two organisations, Chance for Children (CFC) and Safe Child Advocacy (SCA), to count street-connected children in the central business district of Kumasi, Ghana.

Headcounts help us to get a true reflection of the numbers of street-connected children and to understand the reality of their lives. Headcounts capture numbers of children in specific locations of the city, their age and gender, their activities on the streets during the day and night, and whether they permanently live on the streets. This information is vital to help Street Workers plan services that meet the specific needs of street-connected children and ensure they are safer, better supported and valued by their communities. 

Street Workers play a key role in headcounts. In Kumasi, Street Workers both planned the process and collected the data. Street Workers have extensive knowledge of the streets and children’s lives there, so know where to go to collect data and are best placed to assess the situation as they capture the data. Without Street Workers’ close involvement, there would be a risk of capturing inaccurate or misleading information – that could lead to ill-designed programmatic or policy interventions.

In Kumasi, Street Workers counted a total of 6,693 street-connected children aged 0-18 years both during the day and night counts.  2,468 of the children were male, and 4,180 were female – this is a trend common in Ghana, and relatively unique as often in other countries there are more males than females on the streets. More than half of the street-connected children were in the oldest age range of 13-17 years. It was observed that a majority of the older children engaged in casual work while the younger children engaged in begging at the point of observation.

With such detailed data, Street Workers can develop sustainable interventions that target the varying and specific needs of street-connected children in Kumasi. StreetInvest, together with our regional partners can also communicate the findings to local government and advocate for greater resources that are better targeted to be invested in supporting street-connected children.

You can see the full report and its findings here