Effectiveness of Street Youth Reintegration in East Africa
Postmodern Openings, 2011, Year 2, Vol. 6, June, pp: 57-75
21 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2011 Last revised: 6 Jun 2012
Date Written: February 15, 2011
Youth unemployment in Africa challenges governments and development partners alike. This problem is hard to tackle because of the lack of reliable data and related analysis on scale, distribution and complexity of employment, unemployment and livelihood situation as well as effective policies, programmes and approaches for young women and men (F. Chigunta, J. Schnurr, D. James-Wilson and V. Torres, 2005).
In addition to youth unemployment, there are other vulnerable groups of young people such as those on the Streets. Street youth are products of poverty, political instability, war, urbanization, HIV/AIDS amongst other causes. Many participate in crime, sex and drug peddling because of limited income generation alternatives. According to the United Nations 40 percent of young people in the developing countries live on less than USD 1 per day (UNICEF, 2000). There are also over 100 million youth worldwide working and sometimes living on the streets.
The focus of this study is on the effectiveness of reintegration practices amongst the street children organizations in East Africa. Most institutions care for street children and reintegrate them once they become young adults, leaving them to find jobs and to fend for themselves. Some institutions reintegrate the children immediately they finish primary school while others while they are undergoing their secondary schooling or tertiary education. Unfortunately, for many children, at the time of reintegration they may not have adequate skills for competitiveness in the job markets (KARDS, 2006). This study will find out the nature of reintegration strategies and existing reintegration activities. Lastly the study intends to generate recommendations to improve the street youth reintegration in East Africa.
The study uses a set of data collected by Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS) in 2006. KARDS is a Nairobi based community development consultancy. This data is based on the work-activities for 122 street children institutions in Nairobi and its surrounding areas. The data was collected between May and July 2006. Various operational activities for street children institutions such as rehabilitation, street work, outreach and reintegration were captured in this data. This study only uses the section of the data that focuses on reintegration.
The study found out that while there were many rehabilitation activities for street children, reintegration activities for maturing street youth were very minimal on the overall constituting only 2% of the total institutional activities. Disengagement from programme benefits for most institutions is sudden and unplanned and may also be linked to punishments. Disengaging the children is a challenge for institutions because of the fear of what may happen to them once they are on their own.
It is hoped that this study could be used to inform practitioners in order to improve their insights on reintegration; the government may use it to formulate policies based on evidence. Lastly it may provide useful insights to the donor community interested in helping reducing the vulnerability faced by street youth.
Keywords: Street Youth, Reintegration
JEL Classification: A12, A13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation