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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                               

Republic of Ghana

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold and cocoa production, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for about 35% of GDP and employs about 55% of the work force, mainly small landholders.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Ghana

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Ghana.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Give children quality education

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation GBC News, 10 Feb 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Six young reporters campaigning on 'Quality Education for all children' a UNICEF project, say poverty and parental irresponsibility among other things are reasons why many children did not go to school. The young reporters aged between 10 and 17, sharing their experiences and challenges faced by Ghanaian children in an interview said during their campaign, it was realized that many children did not go to school because their parents could not provide them with basic educational materials, such as school uniforms, exercise books, bags and pens.

They disclosed that, some children they interviewed engaged in different kinds of trade such as selling iced water, plantain chips and bread rather than going to school because they had to support their mother's who are mostly single parents, adding that some father's of the children are irresponsible especially for their education.

Ghanaian minister is on a mission

The Commonwealth Times, November 5th, 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Ama, 15, lives in Accra, Ghana. She has no money, food or shelter. She dropped out of school five years ago. Her mother died from AIDS-related complications two years ago. She never knew her father.  Ama's tired, hungry and alone. She walks up to a man and asks him for $4 for food. In return, he wants sex. She obliges and takes the money. She repeats this ritual throughout the day. It's her only means of survival.  In the United States, prostitution is illegal and punishable by law. But in Ghana, said the Rev. Eric Kwasi Annan, scenarios like this happen every day, often involving girls younger than Ana, a fictional example. Why? Because it's legal, and it pays well. sccp

What hope for thousands of street children?

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, ACCRA, 6 March 2007

[accessed 10 March 2015]

His mother wouldn't let him keep going to school, he said. Instead, he was forced to go to work with her at the market.  So one night he quietly left. He went to Accra where he hoped he would find someone to support his education.  Instead of school, Anderson had to work. He lugs boxes and cases, often taller than he is, in one of the city's bus stations. In exchange he gets a handful of coins.  At night, he sleeps on a cardboard mat in front of a meat shop.

Anderson's best friends are also 13 years old. They stick together for protection, but sometimes it's not enough.  "Sometimes the grown-up boys beat us, even take our money and that sort of thing," he said. He also risks being raped and sexually abused.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 6 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In urban centers, street children work mainly as truck pushers, porters, and sales workers.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The migration of children from rural to urban areas increased, due to economic hardship. Children were driven to the streets to fend for themselves, increasing both the occurrence of child labor and the school dropout rate. During the year MOWAC officials estimated that as many as 40 thousand porters, most of whom were girls under 18, lived on the streets in major cities, including Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. These girls were among the most vulnerable child laborers, as many also engaged in prostitution or were sexually exploited in exchange for protection while living on the streets. In 2003 the Ghana Statistical Service and the ILO International Program to Eliminate Child Labor (ILO/IPEC) surveyed 2,314 street children throughout the country, most of whom lived in the urban areas of the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions and had migrated from northern rural areas. Of those surveyed, 45.7 percent had never attended school, 98.1 percent were engaged in economic activity within the last 12 months, and 80 percent stated the work was demanding. Over three-quarters of street children surveyed reported that both parents were alive, indicating poverty was the main cause of the problem.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 1997

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[19] The Committee is also concerned by the increase in the number of children living and/or working on the street in major cities. It is also worried by the violence that is often directed against them. The Committee is further concerned by the lack of statistical data and studies on such children.

Child delinquency on the increase in North

The Ghanaian Chronicle, 27 February 2009

[accessed 16 May 2011]

I asked them, in clear words, why they were not in school? And almost all of them expressed the desire to be in school. Some said though they had parents, they have no money to take them to school.

I quickly asked, “But don't you know basic education is free in Ghana?” The children intelligently replied, “So will the government give us books, bags, pencils, pens, sandals and uniforms? There is no room for us to sleep, and there will be no food after school.” Some said they have to work to support their family, and take care of junior ones, because their parents had died, or were sick, old, or just don't work at all.

The children expect to find work in the streets, find friends, earn money, and be able to bring money home to cater for their families.

The children get sick easily, so they tell me, and there is no money for medicines.

“If someone needs to go to hospital, we make contributions, and if someone hasn't earned money to buy food, we share what we have.”

Ghana: Who Cares About These Children On the Streets?

Bill Graham, The Ghanaian Chronicle, 18 July 2008

[partially accessed 17 May 2011 - access restricted]

WORK THEY ENGAGE IN - The Ghana Statistical Service estimated that approximately 27.2 percent of children aged 5 to 14 years in Ghana were working in 2001.These children work as cart pushers, bar-keepers, head porters, hawkers, shoe shine boys just to mention but a few. . Ignored by authorities and the public, they are often the target for exploitation, threats and violence. But the question is: where are their parents? Who cares about them? Should we pretend not to see it as a problem or accept it to be normal and live with it?

CAUSES - It will be an understatement to say that these children are suffering. At night, they sleep in kiosks and in front of stores exposing them to all kinds of diseases and thieves. Vehicles knock some down. They are easily lured into robbery, drug peddling, child prostitution and other vices. The girls are compelled to satisfy the sexual desires of their male counterparts to get food and for protection.

Ghana: Porters, Street Kids Registered for NHIS

Ernest Best Anane, Kumasi, The Ghanaian Chronicle, Jun 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

The Subin Sub-Metro Mutual Health Insurance, in collaboration with the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), has moved to register porters and street-children in the metropolis, to enable the less-privileged in the area access healthcare, under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).  The programme resulted from the realization that most of the porters were located in the Subin area.  Launching the mass registration, Ms Esther Odoom, Scheme Manager, noted that most of the porters were dying of malaria, and other common diseases, because they cannot afford medical costs.  About 2,000 porters and street-kids were registered at the launch of the exercise, with 800 of them getting it virtually for free.

Street Academy organizes Dinner Dance to support children’s programme

Ghana News Agency GNA, 17 Dec 2007

[accessed 23 September 2011]

A call has been made for a study to be undertaken to understand why many more children are leaving their homes and finding solace in the streets of big towns and cities.  “Today the children on the streets are multiplying as more and more join them, those already there are also starting families, sadly these families have single parents and if we do not quickly and collectively find solution to the root courses of this upsurge of streetism things will get out of hand”.

He said it was obvious that most, if not all the children are refugees of one form or the other. There were cultural refugees, who run away from their homes to avoid being forced into marriages, undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and being enslaved under the Trokosi system, among others.  The others are economic refugees who leave for the streets because of adverse living conditions at home, most likely due to conducts of hostile parents and guardians.

Committee on child labour, trafficking inaugurated

Ghana News Agency GNA, Kumasi, Sept 7, 2007

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[accessed 3 December 2016]

A 21-member steering committee for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) project on combating child labour and trafficking was inaugurated in Kumasi on Thursday.

Dr. Slyvester Sakyiamah, Executive Director of the Social Research Associates, said the Kumasi Metropolis had become the destination for most of the children trafficked from the Upper West, Upper East, Northern regions and other parts the country. He said the children were found to be cart pushers, bar-keepers, head porters, hawkers and domestic servants among other exploitative jobs. Dr. Sakyiamah said due to the nature of the work they engaged in, the lack of shelter and better conditions of life, some of them become street children, who were easily lured into robbery, drug peddling, child prostitution resulting in socio-economic problems.

Organizations Partner to Build Center for Women and Children in Africa

Trio News, Charleston South Carolina, August 13, 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

[accessed 3 December 2016]

Services at the center will include formal education for street children, many of whom are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and who will live at the center, and other local children in nearby villages. Arts-based skills training will be provided to women, older street children and vulnerable teens by master craftspeople, visual and performing artists from Nkabom and the Craftspeople Association of Accra, Ghana. Education in information technology and English as a second language will be available for adults to make them more competitive in the global marketplace. Seminars will be conducted to inform the local community about malaria and HIV/AIDS. Children orphaned due to AIDS will have the chance to grow up in a home with a family on the grounds of the center, and students from colleges around the world will be given opportunities to intern, student teach and work at the center, local orphanages, the children's hospital.

Survival of the Fittest: Pushing Wheelbarrows to live in Buduburam

Laura Suen,Buduburam, New Liberian, January 11, 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

He doesn’t have the luxury to attend school. For the past six years, he has worked pushing heavy loads for at least 12 hours each day, every day of the week.  He is one of the wheelbarrow boys working in Buduburam.

Mehrenburg’s day begins at 5 a.m. That is when he rents his wheelbarrow for 10 000 cedis ($1 US) and begins work immediately, pushing goods within the camp in order to make money to survive. Clients include shopkeepers who need vegetables, rice, cement, and other loads moved to and from shops and homes.

Within his 12-hour work day, his only break is a quick 15-minute lunch – that is, if
he can afford it.  He said in order to feed himself, he must make 15 000 to 20 000 cedis each day. With renting costs, he must make 25 000 to 30 000 cedis every day to survive or approximately $3 US.  However, the numbers often don’t add up.

Children push wheelbarrows to survive in Buduburam

Abednego David, Vision, 2 May 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Samuel David, 14, a refugee child at Buduburam, does not go to school with other children. He goes to the Buduburam market at 6 am with a wheelbarrow, which was bought for him by his sister Mamie David.  David’s routine includes transporting heavy loads of vegetables and other commodities for marketers to and from the Buduburam market center and at the residence of buyers’ returning from Kasoa, a central commercial market town within the same Gomoa Buduburam District in the Central Region.

David, who starts work very early in the morning and finishes work at 6 pm, said he can’t afford to go to school.  “I am not attending school because there’s no money for fees,” he said. “I give the money that I earned daily to my sister for food” he said.  David is one of many boys who push wheelbarrows at Buduburam camp. Most of them do this work to survive and do not go to school.

Northern, Upper East & West Are the Suppliers of Street Kids in Kumasi

Oppong Baah, Public Agenda, Accra, 21 May 2007

[accessed 3 December 2016]

[accessed 17 January 2017]

Several reasons have been adduced for the swarming of Kumasi by these boys and girls many of school going age.  According to Mr. George Baffour Owusu Afriyie, Executive Director of Street Children Development Foundation (SCDF), NGO, idleness as a result of dropping out of school, poverty, lack of parental love for children, are some of the causes of the massive migration to the South.  He mentioned peer pressure, economic factors and on a smaller scale, forced - marriages, as agents in the north - south movement of the youth.

He explained that the geographical position of Kumasi makes it more vulnerable to the phenomenon of street children, as it offers a transit point to migrants from all parts of the country and beyond. These migrants, he said, more often than not terminate their journey in Kumasi and through the Asante hospitality and good neighborliness, resort to any manner of livelihood to sustain themselves.  Like any other job, being a load carrier or porter has its advantages and disadvantages.

On a good day a porter can earn between ¢ 30, 000 and ¢ 50, 000. On bad days, however, a porter has to fall on a colleague to have something to eat. The girls are compelled to satisfy the sexual desires of their male counterparts to get food to eat. Due to such instances a number of young girls become pregnant and have to go back home.

Untold stories of “Kayayei

17 May 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

[accessed 17 January 2017]

There are thousands of children living and working on the streets, and the number is growing in Accra. This is a result of increased urbanisation and the difficult socio-economic circumstances rural families are experiencing.  Like other children living and working on the streets, the Kayayei are vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and abuse, including what may be a higher risk of exposure to HIV/Aids.

The Ghana Statistical Service estimated that approximately 27.2 percent of children aged 5 to 14 years in Ghana were working in 2001. The report indicates that in rural areas, children can be found working in fishing, herding and as contract farm labour. Children also work as domestics, porters, hawkers, mine and quarry workers, and fare-collectors. In urban centres like Accra, street children work mainly as truck pushers, porters, and sales workers.

Poverty in Ghana driving children into prostitution

Reporter: Prue Clarke, Transcript from PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC, 13 October 2005

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Growing poverty has tripled the number of children living on the streets.  “During my visit to a class organized for street children by an NGO, I was puzzled to find just a handful of girls in the class. ‘That's because of the job they do’, the teacher told me. ‘They're all asleep now. They're prostitutes’. - sccp

Family policies, family planning needed to end child homelessness

Editorial, The Statesman, 19/12/2006

[accessed 16 May 2011]

But The Statesman still thinks that the NPP as a government, and we as a society, should be doing more to prioritise the development and well-being of the next generation of Ghana’s leaders. Some action has been taken to tackle some of the supposed root causes of child homelessness – such as lack of education and rural poverty. But what of the 'problem’ itself – the thousands of children who live and die on our streets?

Christmas on the streets

Mary Morgan , The Statesman, 16/12/2006

[accessed 16 May 2011]

[accessed 3 December 2016]

Streetism is one of the most visible problems faced by the youth of today; visible, but unmeasured, because nobody really knows quite how many street children there are in this country - they don’t show up on our national censuses and mostly don’t appear on the school rolls.   Catholic Action for Children, a non-governmental organisation, has been tracking the growth of child streetism in Ghana over the past few years. At the last headcount in 2002, there were 19,165 street children in Accra alone.  The number is up from 10,400 in 1996 when the survey began, and is estimated to have reached some 25,000 to 30,000 now.

Only those children who actually sleep on the street and have no one to support them were counted. Some of these include "second generation" street children, whose mothers are street mothers.

Who Is A Street Child?

[access information unavailable]

Sometimes children find themselves on the street because their parents are too poor to provide for them. These children are supposed to go to school but instead they sell all kinds of wares, such as dog chains, toffees, toys, etc.  Some of them beg or run errands for survival.  Most of them have travelled from far away villages in search of jobs.  But when they move to the cities they don’t get the jobs and have nowhere to go so they end up sleeping in front of stores and kiosks.

Streetism and Ghana's future

Editorial, The Statesman, 11/10/2006

[accessed 23 September 2011]

The Statesman is worried by society’s growing disregard for the street child. But society must remember that in every street child, we have a potential cutlass wielding robber and a potential or actual drug addict.  These are kids have virtually nothing to lose. They are a threat to themselves and a threat to the very society that shuns them. We are turning our streets into breeding grounds for potential terrorists.

UNICEF, DANIDA support Upper West to reduce child mortality

Ghana News Agency GNA, 20 September 2006

[accessed 16 May 2011]

This year's celebration in the region was held at the Wa central lorry park with the main focus on street children, many whom are victims of the worst forms of violence against children and are also exposed to all forms of abuse on the streets. Mr Dery urged the street children, many of who dropped out of school to push trucks in order to earn their living, to avoid the use of narcotic and other hard drugs and aim at becoming responsible adults in future.

Micro finance scheme launched in Kumasi

Ghana News Agency GNA, Kumasi, Aug 29, 2006

[accessed 23 September 2011]

The Street Children Development Foundation (SCDF), a Kumasi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), has embarked on a micro finance scheme for porters and street children in Kumasi. The scheme aims at helping them save little incomes from their work.

Mr George Baffour Owusu-Afriyie, Executive Director of the SCDF, said this when he launched the scheme in Kumasi on Friday. He said the organisation had so far registered 670 porters and street children and they would contribute between 5,000 to 10,000 cedis daily.

Information about Street Children - Ghana [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for Anglophone West Africa on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 21-24 October 2003, Accra, Ghana

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 16 May 2011]

CONSTRAINTS AND CHALLENGES - Girls are less likely than boys to have any form of education, are known to be less aware than boys about sexually transmitted diseases, despite their increasing involvement in commercial sex work. This puts them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and of unwanted pregnancy, which helps to explain the large numbers of second-generation babies born on the street to parents who are themselves street children

The Alternative Africa: Street Children in Ghana - part 1

The International Child And Youth Care Network CYC, Issue 24, • January 2001

[accessed 16 May 2011]

KWAME’S STORY - Within the first week he discovered that the streets are rough. He was beaten by other street boys, by city guards and by police. By the end of the first week he had found three other boys from his area, just a little older, and he joined them and 200 others in their street dormitory area.

The Alternative Africa: Street Children in Ghana - part 2

The International Child And Youth Care Network CYC, Issue 25, • February 2001

[accessed 16 May 2011]

SURVIVAL - The girl children have to adopt extra survival strategies. Once the age of puberty has been reached many of them will have boy minders who will demand sexual favors as payment for protection. Many small girls will use sex for survival in terms of supplementing their income. It is too easy to call them prostitutes. A prostitute is for me a professional sex worker. A 14-year old who offers sex for food and a few shillings to buy a length of cloth is not a prostitute.

Quotes from the street

[accessed 16 May 2011]

[accessed 17 January 2017]

[scroll down]

In 2003, Wendy Jones asked street children in Accra some simple questions and recorded what they said. Their lives may seem very different from our lives but by reading their replies we can see that they are people just like us, often with the same dreams and aspirations.

‘If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?’

Peter, 19: ‘My home town.’

‘If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?’

Simon, 14: ‘Shoes. One Shirt. Sneakers.’

‘What makes you happy?’

Sandra, 4: ‘Clapping games.’

‘What makes you cry?’

Sandra, 4: ‘When I am hungry.’

‘If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?’

Sandra, 4: ‘A dress. Sandals. Eggs.’

‘What do you think about last thing at night before you go to sleep?’

Godfrey, 18: ‘I think about the next day. Because I think that evening has passed so I have to think about the next day. As for the night I have no place to go and I just sleep.’

‘What would you have if you could have anything?’

Peter, 10: ‘A necklace, a watch, a bed I can sleep in, a TV, a video tape – any tape, a chair.’

‘Tell me about your mother.’

Larni, 18: ‘She wants me to be somebody. Yet I am on the streets.’

‘What would you like to do in your future?’

Larni, 18: ‘In the future, if I'm rich – I know I will be rich – yes, I hope, I hope I will be rich, I will care for street children. Children with broken legs who can't work...’

‘What do you regret?’

Betty, 18: ‘I will say I regret being a street girl and I regret picking a boyfriend. And I regret having bad friends – those that don't give good advice and wish for your downfall.’

‘What’s your favourite thing?’

Aisha, 19: ‘I have a long black dress. I used to wear it and go anywhere. If I go to an exhibition or to visit some people I can wear it. I love my long dress. It's fitted with sleeves. It's black.’

[Adapted from:]

Meeting Street Children

Damon Albarn, photos by Greg Williams, Oxfam

[accessed 9 Aug  2013]

More than 11,000 young people are living rough on the streets and the number increases each day.  The majority of these children lack almost all basic needs: shelter, education, health care, adequate nutrition, economic independence and personal safety.  Ignored by authorities and the public, they are often the target for exploitation, threats and violence.

Who is to Blame for Our Youth On the Streets?

Joe Kingsley Eyiah, University of Toronto, Canada, GhanaWeb, 13 August 2003

[accessed 16 May 2011]

TYPES OF STREET YOUTH - 2. About ninety-five percent (95%) of street youth come under the category of homeless. In Ghana, many street youth between the ages of 12 and 20 are without homes to turn in during the night. They sleep in front of stores and in abandoned motor vehicles. These youth have traveled from the countryside mainly to fend for themselves in the cities and urban towns due to lack of family support. Poverty or economic dislocation has driven them from their homes. Unfortunately, some single mothers have even encouraged their teen daughters to go to the streets to make ends meet. Such vulnerable young girls have landed in prostitution and have become homeless, hanging around with pimps whose help is just of exploitation of the children.

Street Life as Labour: The Working Lives of Street Children in Accra

Phil Mizen, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick

[accessed 16 May 2011]

For the past two years, Yaw Ofosu-Kusi and myself have been undertaking research examining the working lives of street children in Accra. The project is on-going and involves a programme of qualitative research exploring the detail of the working lives of Accra's street children. Its emphasis has been on reaching an understanding of these children's working lives by placing emphasis on their testimonies. The research has been particularly interested in examining ways of creating a 'dialogue with a purpose' with these children; on-going ways of providing an exchange between the researchers and these children's accounts of their working lives. To date this has involved more established methodological approaches like interviews, focus groups and recall interviews, but we have also been experimenting with more unusual methodological approaches such as charging street children with becoming researcher-photographers in order to provide new sources of data and to create means of further elicitation. Some of the photographs taken by the children can be viewed here.

Street Children: The Time Is Ripe For Harder Action!

Heerko Dijksterhuis, 02-10-2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 16 May 2011]

A really new approach we are taking is that we plead for the higher skilled professional categories also to be thrown open to street children. In Ghana this means striking a different note; the authorities have to get used to this approach. But I am convinced that in the long run this is the only chance to prevent social exclusion. Many street children are intelligent; this is pretty obvious when you manage to survive on the streets by doing jobs such as carrying goods in the market!

Nketsiah Sings For Street Kids

Source:, 4 March 2005

[accessed 16 May 2011]

The project seeks to help raise significant amounts of money through eight major concerts to support five selected Orphanages and Children’s home who have pledged to take up a considerable number of street children across the country.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Ghana",, [accessed <date>]