News / Africa

Malawi Aims to Rid Cities of Street Children

A boy displays boiled rats for sale on the main highway in Malawi's capital Lilongwe June 20, 2009.
A boy displays boiled rats for sale on the main highway in Malawi's capital Lilongwe June 20, 2009.
Lameck Masina
Malawi's government has embarked on a nationwide exercise to rid the major cities and towns of street children.

Government authorities say the move is part of "A Home for Every Child" campaign launched last July which seeks to ensure that every child has a home.

“The reason why we launched that campaign is because we have noted that the number of street children is increasing by the day," explained Mary Shawa, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare. "And therefore, we felt it’s within our mandate to go out and get those street children and find out why they are in the street.”

Describing the findings, Shawa said some orphans have nowhere to go.

"There are those who are in the streets because their parents have sent them to beg to supplement family income.  There is another group who are being used by a gang of thieves as a tool or bet for begging.  And then there are those that are hired by handicapped street beggars as guides," she explained.

According to Shawa, these children can become a menace to society, especially at night when many of them turn into criminals.
While some children are put into reformatory centers, she said others are returned to their homes, from where they will attend school and hopefully become better Malawi citizens.

She said so far the number moved has increased from 14 to 160.

However, Shawa conceded that the exercise is not without challenges, as some children resist being taken off the streets.

“Those who are resisting are the hard core thieves who are taught how to steal, and they believe they cannot go back to their homes or the places we are taking them to," she noted.  "And if we will find the hard core, the case will be opened and they will go through normal legal system and they will be taken to Mpemba and Chirwa [juvenile prisons].”

Critics oppose the strategy, saying it has left out parents and guardians who they say need to be a focal point in child care.

“We have to approach the guardians and find out why they allowed children into the streets," stressed Godknows Maseko, the executive director of Step Kids Awareness, a non-governmental organization that rehabilitates street children.

"If we find out the problem, maybe parents may need psychosocial counseling," he added. "Then we have to find a place where we are going to keep those children while we are doing the psychosocial counseling because psychosocial counseling to a guardian can take one or two months for them to understand what they can do to take care of the children.”

Mary Shawa says parents who let their children into the streets will be punished in line with the just passed Child Care, Protection and Justice Law, which aims to protect children.

The Malawi Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment shows that over 60 percent of Malawians live below the poverty line of $2 a day, while 22 percent of them are ultra poor, living below 10 cents a day - a situation which often forces children into the street to supplement their families’ incomes.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jasper
January 18, 2013 11:03 AM
What a pitiful sight to see, shocking. However Malawi is not the
only Country, Zimbabwe is another Country about which much can
be written of the mayhem and collapse of agriculture and the causes, including poverty etc. However the Press, journalists themselves, have to be extremely careful of what they say and do.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs