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Covid-19 lockdowns hit Zimbabwe’s street children hard


By Alois Vinga

Street children in Zimbabwe’s urban areas have been hit hard by the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions as this means having limited access to food and other opportunities.

This was revealed by the Environment and Urbanisation Journal (EUJ), following a local study on the impact of the lockdown restrictions on homeless people.

“Due to lockdown restrictions, there are few jobs; there are low earnings meaning less income to buy food,” the EUJ summed up its findings.

“Scavenging in bins is a problem because of movement restrictions and because fewer people are dropping leftover food in bins.”

The study also revealed that freely moving around to work, play or socialising becomes impossible for homeless children because of the threat of being arrested for loitering, moving without a pass letter from an employer, or not wearing a face mask.

These limitations in movement affect the children’s ability to earn, work, eat and play and build assets for the future, among others, it said.

The researchers gathered their data through story map activities involving street children and youth in Harare. 

Prior experience has shown story maps to be a compelling way of involving street youth participants in explaining and reflecting on their lives and experiences.

Story mapping is a method for arranging user stories to create a more holistic view on how they fit into the overall user experience. 

Usually, the entire team identifies and agrees on the primary steps of the user journey and then assigns user stories beneath them.

For this project, a story map was produced around the framework of the 10 capabilities, defined by participants at the start of growing up on the streets as fundamental to their achievement of wellbeing.

The researchers observed that authorities in Harare conducted roundups of street children and youth.

Many children aged between 10 and 16 were moved into children’s homes, leaving older youth and young children who live with parents on the streets.

During the roundups, street children and youth tried to run away because of their fear of the unknown and lack of accurate information, or their previous experience of roundups.

 EUJ researchers added: “Roundups are associated with arrest and confinement in poorly organised care and protection centres, which, according to a (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) situation assessment, lack the bare minimum of basic services to maintain adequate personal hygiene and services to care for them.”

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