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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                         

United Republic of Tanzania

Tanzania is in the bottom ten percent of the world's economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40% of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry traditionally featured the processing of agricultural products and light consumer goods.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Tanzania

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Tanzania.  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.


Tanzanian children struggle with homelessness

Andrew Rosten, The Daily Vidette,  Illinois State University, 4/25/2008

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 July 2011]

“[As a result of urbanization], a lot of fathers are leaving the rural areas for the urban areas to find work," Stewart said. "If they don't find work in these places, they can't go back because of certain attitudes in terms of a male's responsibility for his family, so they abandon their families and leave mom in the villages with all these kids. She can't do it, so a lot of these kids say, 'OK, mom can't take care of me, so I need to just go away.' ”

Those budding criminals!

Gasirigwa Sengiyumva, Daily News, 3rd June 2011

[accessed 28 July 2011]

[accessed 8 January 2017]

These children are in most cases neglected by parents. They survive on rancid leftovers of food often scooped out of garbage cans. They sleep in the dank alleys. Many blame their "cruel" parents in particular and society in general for their predicament.  Some of the children I spoke to recently sleep in abandoned kiosks and shacks. In coastal cities and towns street children sleep in junked boats, abandoned homes, semi-finished houses and dilapidated vehicles, canopies of trees or on the open beach.  Many do not trust anyone. They are security sensitive and always carry knives for self-defence. In some cases, it is these needy children who engage in criminal activities for reasons of sheer survival.  Some of these delinquents may have been brought up by parents who have no respect for the rule of law or who are criminals themselves.


*** 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 28 December 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In the informal sector, children are engaged in scavenging, fishing, fish processing, and quarrying.  Other children work as barmaids, street vendors, car washers, shoe shiners, cart pushers, carpenters, auto repair mechanics, and in garages.  In 2001, 56.9 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years attended school.

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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - UNICEF estimated there were two million child orphans, most of them orphaned by AIDS. There were significant numbers of street children in both Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Street children had limited access to health and education services because they lacked a fixed address and money to purchase medicines, school uniforms, or books. They were also subject to sexual abuse by older street children and persons without a fixed residence. In the refugee camps, orphans were generally absorbed into other families and those who were not absorbed generally qualified as extremely vulnerable individuals and received additional support and counseling.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 8 June 2001

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[36] The Committee is concerned about the incidence of police brutality, particularly against children living and/or working on the streets, refugee children and those in conflict with the law. Concern is also expressed at the inadequate enforcement of existing legislation to ensure that all children are treated with respect for their physical and mental integrity and their inherent dignity.

[60] The Committee notes that the State party joined the ILO International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) in 1994 and subsequently committed itself to a time-bound program to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, starting in mid-2001. However, in light of the current economic situation, the increasing number of school drop-outs and the increasing number of children living and/or working on the streets, the Committee is concerned about the large number of children engaged in labor and the lack of information and adequate data on the situation of child labor and economic exploitation within the State party.

No solution in sight yet to salvage street children

The Observer, 2009/01/11

[Last access date unavailable]

Driving his Coaster commuter bus on the 15-kilometre journey from Mwenge to Kariakoo, Rashid Juma is always confronted by little girls and boys who beg for money at the Fire Bus Stop in Dar es Salaam.   He parts with at least 100 shillings daily to offer to such beggars, still at very tender age, continually waving pitifully at him or other motorists as vehicles stop at the red lights.   ``I sympathise with the poor lot. I give whatever I can find in my pocket.   It is a painful sight,`` says the driver, who almost instinctively dips his hand in his trouser or shirt pocket to find any coins on seeing such poor kids.   The Fire Brigade Bus Stop, along Morogoro road, is a place of high concentration of child beggars.   Worldwide, millions of children never enjoy childhood because they are forced to work, and sometimes as labourers or virtual slaves.   The practice is illegal in Tanzania but it is becoming common in towns where parents are said to tell their children to help fight poverty by begging in the streets.

Time bomb that must be defused

Daily News

[Last access date unavailable]

The fast-increase in the number of street children in almost all major and small urban areas in the country, with Dar es Salaam leading the pack, is a matter of great concern. It’s a time bomb that must be defused.

There are several causes for the increase as advanced by researchers, the most hyped about being children who are left with no families after their parents died of HIV/AIDS. Other causes mentioned are family poverty, mistreatment by irresponsible parents or guardians and rebellious behaviour among some children for one reason or another.

Some lazy parents who think that begging is the only way of earning a living, take their children with them to the streets and introduce them to the world of begging, a very sad case of beggar-begetting-beggar. To the poor children, this is the world they would learn to know for the rest of their lives if no intervention will be forthcoming along the way.

Experience and research has shown that some of the street children, bitter with the way the world has treated them, graduate into hardcore criminals on reaching adulthood or even much earlier. Who is to blame for this undesirable state of affairs other than the larger society in which the displaced children live?

Revealed: The dark side of Mwanza street children

Reinier Carabain, Sunday Observer, Dar es Salaam, 21 September 2008

[partially accessed 28 July 2011]

One of the African countries, which have witnessed a tremendous increase in unsupervised children either living alone or working on urban streets, is Tanzania.  Since Tanzania has introduced the neo-liberal development paradigm in 1985, instructed by the World Bank and the IMF, and has been severely hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the number of street children has increased rapidly and has become a growing social problem and concern.  This social problem is especially acute in big cities, like Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Morogoro, Moshi, Tanga, Mbeya and Mwanza, where the rates of urban population growth have been exploding.  The rapid population growth has been associated with an increase in the number of children living alone on urban streets or spending most of their day on the streets in the quest for survival.  The majority of these children have for various reasons either abandoned or have been abandoned by their families and have migrated to urban areas in order to earn a living.

Urban street children are seen as a problem which further compounds the nature of an urban crisis. Tanzanian politicians, policy-makers and urban planners seem to be helpless in their efforts to either solve the problem or to assist street children and have failed to prescribe plausible concrete solutions.  In fact, the official government attitude towards street children has been very negative. Street children are considered to be hooligans, vagabonds and prone to commit crimes.  As a result of this, they have been target of harassment by law enforcement organisations; there are many cases of street children being beaten by police, detained and sometimes repatriated to their rural homes.  Nevertheless, these draconian measures have not provided long-term solutions to this social problem.  The number of urban street children has continued to escalate every year. – sccp

Aids 'ravaging street children'

Cosmas Makalla, The Citizen (Dar es Salaam), 31 August 2008

[partially accessed 28 July 2011 - access restricted]

Available figures indicate that currently there are 411 street children in the two region's cities compared to 301 the previous year.  A study conducted in 2006 shows that the number is increasing at the rate of 26 per cent per year.  Most of the street children in Arusha are boys while in Moshi the majority are girls. More than 90 per cent are aged over 15 years in Arusha while in Moshi the same age group accounts for 50 per cent of the street kids.  The Centre says most children end up in the street due to poverty, alcoholism, divorces and related family disputes. Others prefer the streets to being forced to work on farms by their parents to supplement family incomes.  Once on the streets, the majority of them engage in risky behaviour that exposes them to HIV/Aids.

Mkombozi spearheads child protection

Daily News

[Last access date unavailable]

Street children in Arusha and Moshi municipalities can now access free medical treatment and health care, thanks to an initiative of an organisation working on their behalf.  According to Anna Thor of Mkombozi center for street children, street children in the two municipalities are issued with a special “sick sheet” which they need only to present to a hospital or clinic in order to receive treatment. The health centre will then be reimbursed by the organisation.  Ms Thor says that her organisation tries to capture local potential through learning and reflection and acts as a catalyst for children's holistic development

She says in a recent report released recently that the number has gone up by 67 per cent in five years since the last census in 2003. Verbal, physical and sexual abuses are often mentioned as the reasons for children to leave for the streets. Once there they face more violence and abuse in a constant struggle to access food, safety and opportunities to disengage with street life. There is no practical state support for these children.  Through its outreach programme, Mkombozi supports children outreach programmes in Arusha and it is looking forward to provide mobile unit that will enable more children to be reached and a more comprehensive array of services to be offered on the street.

MIND THAT CHILD : Spare a thought for young scavengers

Daily News, Jul 04, 2008

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Some of the children were in the company of a parent or, in few cases, both parents. I was amazed. Indeed, I found it a sorry spectacle. Families living in grinding poverty think they have no dignity to defend. So, to them, scavenging is a small, acceptable matter.  In most cases it is the same street children that we see eating from garbage cans that visit dumpsites. Young beggars and other socially disadvantaged children also scavenge. The habit is so compelling that the dumps are sometimes swarming with scavengers.  The most notorious scavengers are found in the city of Dar es Salaam where dumpsites are almost always overflowing with refuse shunted in from various sources including the port, hospitals, factories, garages and homes.  Scavenging children make their living by picking up and selling used paper, plastic, bottles, metal pieces, tins, rags, clothes and other objects from street garbage or dumpsites. Adult scavengers do exactly the same thing.

Growing army destitutes alarming, House told

Daily News, July 03, 2008

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Over half of the parents residing along Mahita Street in Morogoro Municipality engage their children in street begging to earn a living. The Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Dr Lucy Nkya, revealed in the National Assembly yesterday that the facts were revealed in a survey conducted in the area recently.  "Some 60 per cent of the parents interviewed admitted that they send their children to streets to beg and bring back to them what they got,"

Gordon's work to live on in trust

Sunderland Echo, 21 April 2008

[accessed 28 July 2011]

A new Wearside charity is to bring fresh hope to poverty-stricken street children in Tanzania.

"The poverty over there is unimaginable. One of the families who were considered 'comfortable' had three of four children sleeping in one bed, a charcoal fire in a basic hut."

"Children over there often come down from the country and villages to try to get work. You'll often see little kids breaking rocks by the side of the road. It's absolutely heartbreaking."

Street boy soldiers on

Peter Mwangu, Sunday Observer, 8 July 2007

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

It may sound fictitious but it`s real: Nicholaus Issa is three-people-in-one. From sunrise to noon, he is a student and then converts to part-beggar and part-odd jobs operative in the streets up to late evening.  The ``third person`` rounds off the day when he retires for the night, not in the conventional sense of sleeping under a roof, but in the open.  15-year-old Nicholaus is a street child, who shares the degrading label with several other boys and girls in Dar es Salaam and other Tanzanian urban centres.  The only difference for him, which makes him luckier than several of his core community-mates, is that education is one of the components of his life while that of others is confined to two, and both negative.

Council Embarks On Exercise to Round Up Beggars and Street Kids

Innocent Kisanga, Arusha Times (Arusha), April 14, 2007

[accessed 8 January 2017]

According to the Arusha municipality public relations officer, Elias Malima, this exercise is done repeatedly to make sure the streets remain clear without beggars or street kids who disturb pedestrians and motorists by asking them money.

In December last year more than 300 beggars were sent back to their home villages but up to mid January this year most of them were back in Arusha and begging as usual with glee and relish.

Mind That Child: Save a prayer for child scavengers

Daily News, Jul 04, 2008

[accessed 28 July 2011]

[scroll down]

Some of these highly vulnerable and socially disadvantaged were in the company of a parent or, in some cases, both parents. This was a sorry spectacle indeed. I was amazed. Families living in grinding poverty often think they have no dignity to defend. So, to them, scavenging is a small, compelling matter. In most cases, it is the same street children that we see eating from garbage cans that visit dumpsites. Young beggars and other socially disadvantaged children also scavenge.

The habit is so compelling that the dumps, especially those in Dar es Salaam, sometimes swarm with scavengers. It is a pity that some people make scavenging a life-long undertaking. Marunde Mboni (47), a resident of Dodoma, has scavenged in the municipality for nearly 40 years. Scavenging children make their living by picking up and selling used paper, plastic, bottles, metal pieces, tins, rags, clothes and other objects from street garbage or dumpsites.

Former journalism student reflects on Tanzania’s challenges

Victor Lugala, Daily News, January 20, 2007

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Not far from the dance halls, there was a negative street phenomenon that has overtaken Mwanza and authorities seem not to care, although they notice. As early as 10 pm you can see a group of girls standing under lamp posts. Some of these girls are probably as young as ten years old, dressed like young adults in tight trousers while others are skimpily dressed in cheap mitumba (second-hand clothes).

When a car approaches they gesture to catch the attention of the motorist. These are the child prostitutes of Mwanza. Some of these are said to be homeless children or street children, if you like.

During the day, they are seen as street children, and at night they moonlight as commercial sex workers serving pedophiles. In their nocturnal exploits these young flesh hawkers are bound to be exposed to cruelty, abuse and infection with sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.

Those young criminals!

Sosthenes Mwita, Daily News, 3 September 2010

[accessed 28 July 2011]

It has been determined that some homeless children share the mean streets with adult underworld criminals -- thieves, drug peddlers, and others. These adults get into contact with street children easily. They, indeed, exploit them for criminal ends. Sometimes the children wind up in prisons.

Thieves often send street children on errands. The children are instructed to steal mobile phones, handbags and gold chains from pedestrians. The young thieves are paid small sums of money in return but in the process they risk being caught and battered to death by rowdy mobs.

Street children are also used to push narcotic drugs for adult criminals. Children are invariably deemed to be innocent young souls who cannot afford to buy and sell expensive narcotic drugs. So drug barons often exploit this notion to the fullest.

Tanzania street kid's Norfolk joy

Former Tanzania street child Sospeter Okoth, 04 January 2007

[accessed 8 January 2017]

By the time he was nine, both of his parents had died from Aids, and Sospeter was forced to fend for himself, begging for scraps as he made his away across the fourth poorest nation in the world in search of an education.  That was until he came to the notice of Norfolk-based charity Street Child Rescue Tanzania, whose founder Vicky Robertson paid for a secondary-school education in which he has so far excelled.  Now 21, Sospeter is about to start his A-levels in Tanzania, runs a boarding house for the charity where he looks after 10 former street children, and finds time to play football for a team in the equivalent of the English Championship.

'Darwin's Nightmare' is Mwanza's reality

Nelden Djakababa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 12/12/2006

[accessed 28 July 2011]

We are then shown a glimpse of the lives of Mwanza street children. Some of them are neglected by their parents who have to go to other areas to find work, leaving their children to their own devices.

But more disturbing is the fact that most of them have to live on the streets because their parents have died of AIDS. The fishermen's sheer poverty has inadvertently contributed to the quick spread of the disease.

In a particular fishermen's community with a population of around 300, some 45 to 50 individuals have died due to the virus within the last six months. We see a religious leader who says that he does not encourage his flock to wear condoms "because it is sinful."

UNH Anthropologist on Tanzanian Mission To Help Street Children

Tracy Manforte, University of New Hampshire UNH News Bureau, DURHAM NH, November 22, 1999

[accessed 28 July 2011]

The region is destitute and the government has done little to assist children who have been abandoned due to poverty or who have lost parents due to disease.  In Dar-Es-Salaam, the east coast capital of Tanzania, the streets are home to about 2,000 abandoned children.  The government has made no attempt to understand who these children are, where they come from, their reasons for leaving home, how they survive and what problems they face.

Poverty, HIV and barriers to education: street children's experiences in Tanzania

R. Evans, Gender and Development Vol. 10, No. 3, November 2002

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Within the context of national levels of poverty, ‘cost-sharing’ in health and education sectors, and the AIDS epidemic, poor families in Tanzania are under considerable pressure, and increasing numbers of girls and boys are consequently seeking a living independently on the streets of towns and cities.

Information about Street Children - Tanzania [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for East and Southern Africa on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 11- 13 February 2002, Nairobi, Kenya

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Background: Children under 15 constitute about 46% of the population. The urban population is estimated at about 26%. There has been an increase in street children numbers since the early 1990s due to the impact of poverty on households and the effect of HIV/AIDS. In a 2000 survey by Mkombozi, 22% of children migrating to the streets was the result of school exclusion linked to inability to pay school fees.

DogoDogo Centre Street Children Project

Dogo Dogo Street Children Centre, Tanzania

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Increasing poverty and migration from the countryside to towns are the reasons for the disbandment of traditional family structures followed by a loss of support to children from the extended family. Street children are left alone, undernourished and under constant pressure to find food and a place to sleep. Theft, robbery and prostitution are their daily strategies of survival.

Strengthening communities producing street children in the Kilimanjaro Region

ChildHope UK

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

[accessed 28 July 2011]

A mere 38% of children complete their 7 years of compulsory basic education, while children with disabilities are excluded from the education system altogether because of stigma towards them in the community and in school.

Amani Children's Home

Amani Children’s Home

[accessed 28 July 2011]

Since its founding by local Tanzanians in 2001, Amani Children's Home has rescued over 150 children from the perils of life on the streets, where children face a high risk of HIV transmission and malnutrition.

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 - Tanzania",, [accessed <date>]