Malawi Street Children Enumeration Webinar

28th July 2015

Making the invisible visible: counting children on the streets in Malawi

Thank you to those who joined the CPC Learning Network webinar on 28 July: “Making the Invisible Visible: Counting Children on the Streets in Malawi.” 41 people participated in the webinar with insightful questions and a lively online discussion. If you missed the webinar the video recording and presentation slides can be seen here

What the webinar covered:

Very little evidence exists about the numbers of children living and working on the streets globally, undermining efforts to ensure they receive adequate and appropriate care. In order to inform policy and practice in Malawi, Retrak, Chisomo Children’s Club and the Government of Malawi undertook an enumeration study of children on the streets in Lilongwe and Blantyre, using the capture/recapture methodology (i.e. children found in the same location on two successive counts).

The study estimates the number of children living and working on the streets in Lilongwe to be 2,389 and in Blantyre to be 1,776, this is based on children reporting or being observed to sleep or work on the streets or other public locations.

In addition the study found:

  • 1 in 5 children on the streets is a girl
  • Only 9% of children on the streets in Lilongwe and 12% in Blantyre are sleeping on the streets, that’s around 200 children in each city
  • Two-thirds of children return to their parents’ home to sleep, roughly a further 15% return to homes of relatives
  • Over 80% of children on the streets come from homes within the same district
  • Over one-third of children still attend school on a daily basis
  • Girls are less likely to sleep on the streets and more likely to stay in contact with parents
  • Both boys and girls are reported to be involved in sex work

To build on the new National Strategy for Children Living and Working in the Streets, the study recommends the need to:

  • Focus on child labour and family strengthening in urban settings
  • Improve outreach and avoid unnecessary family separation and criminalisation
  • Build capacity for reintegration and alternative care with local follow-up support
  • Increase specific support for children involved in sex work and those affected by disability
  • Ensure national coordination and monitoring of all activities which benefit children on the streets
  • Align national policy and legislation

There is also a need for further research and discussion around the use of the capture/recapture methodology in order to build the understanding of limitations and child protection concerns and of what adaptations are needed for different contexts. Efforts should also be made to track impact on policy and practice and to understand the economic and social costs of children living and working on the streets.

A video recording and presentation slides of the webinar can be seen here

If you have questions about the presentation, please contact:
Joanna Wakia (Retrak):
Charles Gwengwe (Chisomo Children’s Club):
Eva Noble (CPC Learning Network):

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