In Uganda, there are over 10,000 children living and working on the streets across all districts. The children, who are predominantly Ugandans also include nationals from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. All children in street situations have experienced different forms of violence; emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, child labor and exploitation.
A large number of children in street situations have not completed primary education. The few who have managed to complete primary education and those who join secondary school find it hard to complete level one of secondary education.
Extreme poverty, domestic violence, peer pressure, the existence of work opportunities, child neglect, death of parents/caregivers and family breakups are some of the major pull and push factors that lure children to leave home and gain strong connections to the street. Child hard labour is rampant amongst children in street situations, as they are witnessed to engage in different forms of work, including collecting and selling scrap and bottles; engaging in casual labour; hawking or vending; engaging in commercial sex; pick pocketing; as well as drug dealing.
It is common that children in street situations find city dwellings like streets, culverts, swamps and shrinks as a place to sleep after a long day. However, part time street-connected children stay and sleep at home, where they live with their families. The health conditions of children in street situations is alarming and, in many cases, they are not treated with urgency. Currently, there are no specialized health care centers which provide tailor made services for children in street situations.
To guarantee care and protection of the rights of children in street situation, Save Street Children Uganda has developed measures and initiatives to address and prevent cases of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation against children in street situations.
Through collective advocacy, with the support of child rights networks, we promote the rights of children in street situations and other vulnerable children. While protection is a right of every child, some children like children in street situations, children with disabilities, child labourers etc. are more vulnerable than others and need special attention. Therefore, child protection is relevant for all settings; - home, school, neighborhood, community, and residential care centres.
As a child rights agency, SASCU provides a protective environment for children in communities where her programs are implemented. As a preventive measure to child abuse and exploitation, SASCU continuously builds and strengthens the capacity of local council leaders, child protection committees, police, community development leaders and religious leaders who are mainly targeted with the aim of augmenting child protection efforts. We also conduct periodic community civic education and dialogues to reach grass root stakeholders and build their child abuse response capacity.
With the support of state and non-state actors, SASCU works to enhance case management service delivery and referral.
Our child protection systems are built on the basis of a child rights approach, which forms the basis of the practical measures required for prevention and response strategies designed to reach children in street situations.