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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                               

Republic of Zambia

Zambia's economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with real GDP growth in 2005-08 about 6% per year.

Zambia experienced a bumper harvest in 2007, which helped to boost GDP and agricultural exports and contain inflation. Although poverty continues to be significant problem in Zambia, its economy has strengthened, featuring single-digit inflation, a relatively stable currency, decreasing interest rates, and increasing levels of trade.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Zambia

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


Lufwanyama Villagers Riot Over Street Kids

Rodgers Kalero, Times of Zambia, March 19, 2007

[accessed 15 January 2017]

Irate villagers in Lufwanyama district damaged three Government vehicles and injured two policemen when they ran amok over Katembula Training centre street children who are allegedly terrorising people.  The villagers in Chief Shimukunami’s area got incensed when their traditional ruler tried to calm them down during a meeting with Government officials, who included Copperbelt Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Musonda.  The street children had fled the training centre, following hostility from the villagers.The villagers had risen against the youths and were demanding that they be taken away because they were allegedly harassing women and other people.


*** 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 17 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Because HIV/AIDS claims the lives of many adults in the country, a growing number of orphans have been forced to migrate to urban areas, increasing the population of street children.  In order to survive, many orphans engage in various forms of work.  Street children are especially vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, and the problem of child prostitution is widespread in Zambia.

[4288] In the city of Lusaka alone, there are an estimated 30,000 children living on the streets.

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 - There were approximately 1 million children under the age of 15 in the country who were orphaned, approximately 750 thousand of these as a result of HIV/AIDS. These children faced greater risks of child abuse, sexual abuse, and child labor. Approximately 75 percent of all households were caring for at least one orphan, and children headed approximately 7 percent of households due to the death of both parents. The government instituted programs to increase public awareness of HIV/AIDS.

There are laws that criminalize child prostitution; however, the law was not enforced effectively, and child prostitution was widespread. The presence of an estimated 30 thousand street children in Lusaka contributed to the proliferation of street begging and prostitution. The laws against pornography and the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 21 were sporadically enforced.

During the year the government continued implementation of a strategy to provide shelter and protection to street children, including prostitutes. The Ministry of Labor reported that the majority of the five thousand children removed from child labor during the year were street children.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 9 March 2011]

[36] The Committee notes the information that children deprived of a family environment (orphans and other vulnerable children) should be cared for by the extended family and that foster care is supported by special fees paid to foster parents, but the Committee is concerned that these forms of alternative care are not sufficiently encouraged and supported.

[68] The Committee expresses grave concern at the high and increasing number of street children.  In particular, the Committee notes their limited access to health, education and other basic social services as well as their vulnerability to police brutality, sexual abuse and exploitation.

Street kids – a major problem in Southern Province

Zambia News and Information Services ZANIS, February 24, 2009

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Mr Hakayobe said some of the households in rural and peri-urban areas were living in absolute poverty and did not have access to the basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.   The Permanent Secretary said as a result of increased poverty in many households, children and youths had been forced to live and work on the street.   Mr Hakayobe said this had exposed youths to bad vices such as child prostitution, early pregnancies and marriages resulting in most of them contracting HIV/AIDS.

ZAMBIA: Government fails to break the street kid addiction

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lusaka, 11 June 2008

[accessed 22 February 2015]

Moses Phiri, 15, is one of thousands of Zambia's street kids who were sent to one of the training centres, but since completing his rehabilitation has returned to his old haunts and ways, begging on the streets for money.  "I [have] lived like this since 2001 when [my] parents died. I sleep in ditches. If I see people carrying plastic bags, I ask to help. They give anything, maybe 1,000 kwacha [US$ 0.30], maybe more. I was forced to leave [the] streets, but that programme is not good, it’s not helping us," Phiri told IRIN.  Street life exposes children to violence, exploitative and hazardous labour conditions, such as sex-work and child trafficking, and a plan to counter these influences was drawn up by government in 2006.  For nearly two years the Street Kids Rehabilitation programme has been targeting male children on the streets and recruiting them to one of three training centres situated in Copper Belt and Eastern provinces and one centre on the outskirts of Lusaka.  The pilot project is only targeting boys from Lusaka at this stage and not from any other urban areas in Zambia as yet.  Since the programme's inception in late 2006, government estimates that more than 1,200 children have successfully completed the skills training and rehabilitation programme, although only a handful of them have managed to earn a living from the skills they have acquired.  "If they [government] want me to leave [the streets], let them also give me job. They take me to camp, they teach me English, they teach me to make beds, to make chairs; but they don’t give me a job after. They give me tools. I sold them for a cheap price. So, I have come back to start begging again, nothing has changed. I have no supporter [sponsor], I beg to live," Phiri said.

Zambia's 'Street' Children - Nothing short of a Herculean effort is required to help the growing legion of orphans

OhmyNews, 2008-January-08

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Most of the children face a bleak future, without parents to care for them and with little, if any, assistance offered by the government.  The children are often traumatized by the death of parents, stigmatized through association with HIV and often thrown into desperate poverty by the loss of breadwinners. They live under enormous pressure and suffer depression and other psychological problems.  Young girls, in particular, are the first to be denied educational opportunities in favor of boys and are forced into early marriages with older men, which put them at higher risk of HIV infection.  Children, both girls and boys, turn to the streets in search of a better life but the reality that confronts them can only be described as grim. Street life creates extreme vulnerability to violence, exploitative and hazardous labor, sex-work and trafficking.

Zambia: K3.9 Billion for Street Kids Programme Paid Out

The Times of Zambia, Ndola, 8 August 2007

[accessed 15 January 2017]

"The ministry has so far removed 52 children in various streets of Lusaka and mostly at the Manda Hill fly-over bridge out of which 38 boys have been placed at Fountain of Hope Foundation children's home.  "These children are currently undergoing rehabilitation and will soon be reintegrated into their families," Ms Namugala said.  Families for most of the Lusaka children have been traced and were being prepared to receive them.

The other 398 children were removed from the streets of Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe, Solwezi, Kafue, and Kapiri-Mposhi.  Ms Namugala said 138 of the children had been placed in children's centres for screening while 260 of them were reintegrated into their families after they were screened.  Government has empowered families of the children with start-up capital for income generating ventures.

Shelter that gives hope to Africa’s street children

Marriane Pallister, The Herald Scotland, 15 May 2007

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Never say that they have nowhere to go. They still dream about becoming future leaders who'll be respected some time in their lives. It becomes so painful for them when they see their friends being taken to school and this makes them feel bad and neglected.

Probably they'll start thinking of going back home. Unfortunately, they find it hard to leave the street because they're wed to street life.

Lubuto Libraries Provide Haven for AIDS Orphans, Street Children

Louise Fenner, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), US Department of State USINFO, Washington

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Meyers, an American librarian who spent many years in Africa, notes that for reasons ranging from lack of money to prejudice, children orphaned by AIDS, as well as other street kids, often are unable to attend school.  The Lubuto Library will provide them ?an opportunity to learn,? to improve their literacy and even to study for secondary school entrance exams.

State Aims to Remove 6,000 Children From the Streets

The Times of Zambia, Ndola, February 1, 2007

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

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Billboards to educate the public on the negative effects of encouraging street children through alms-giving would be erected in many places, the minister said.

She also said the Government would enforce laws regarding child labour and would continue rounding up the children to engage them in productive ventures while others would be taken to reformatory schools.

"Above all, as a Government, we shall address the root causes that have made children go to the streets mainly through empowering programmes after identifying families where these children are coming from.

ZAMBIA: Getting street kids to stay on the straight and narrow

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lusaka, 1 November 2006

[accessed 22 February 2015]

Dressed in baggy trousers, caps and colourful T-shirts, the toughened teens of the "Back to School Project" were scared.  The boys, all between the ages of 14 and 18, live on the streets of Zambia's capital, Lusaka, where they play, fight, gamble and do what they can to earn a little money for food and drink, sometimes raking in enough to help support their families. Each of the boys was to be tested for HIV that day.

Efforts to Rehabilitate Street Children Welcome

EDITORIAL, The Times of Zambia, Ndola, September 15, 2006

[accessed 15 January 2017]

Some have suggested that one of the ways to solve the problem is to punish negligent parents. Another way to tackle the problem would be to improve social amenities in the country where most children could spend their pass time.

It is more practical to invest in structures which syphon children from the streets than simply donating clothing and foodstuffs for them."

Africa adds to miserable ranks of child workers

Michael Wines, New York Times, LUSAKA, August 24, 2006

[accessed 18 August 2011]

The boulders here are hard enough that the scavengers who have taken over the abandoned quarry south of downtown prefer not to strike them directly with their hammers.  They heat the rocks first - with flaming tires, scrap plastic, even old rubber boots - so that the stones will fracture more easily.  At dusk, when three or four blazes spew choking black clouds across the huge pit, the quarry looks like a woodcut out of Dante.  A boy named Alone Banda works in this purgatory six days a week.

Nine years old, nearly lost in a hooded sweatshirt with a skateboarder on the chest, he takes football-size chunks of fractured rock and beats them into powder.  Lacking a hammer, he uses a thick steel bolt gripped in his right hand.  In a good week, he says, he can make enough powder to fill half a bag.  His grandmother, Mary Mulelema, sells each bag, to be used to make concrete, for 10,000 kwacha, less than $3. Often, she said, it is the difference between eating and going hungry.

Zambian gov't plans to recruit 1,000 children living on streets

Xinhua News Agency, August 14, 2006

[accessed 18 August 2011]

The Zambian government is planning to recruit about 1,000 children living on streets countrywide next month in an effort to address the social problem caused by poverty and widespread HIV/AIDS, The Post quoted an official as reporting on Monday.

"There is so much interest now as more children want to be removed from the streets and integrated into these programs," Bobby Samakai, permanent secretary of the Sport, Youth and Child Development Ministry, was quoted as saying.

There are altogether 15 camps allocated in the country's nine provinces providing basic skill training to the recruited street children, said Samakai, adding that the criterion was to take the most vulnerable who had no parents and nowhere to go first.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviews initial report of Zambia

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, 27 April 2005

[accessed 20 September 2011]

RESPONSE BY DELEGATION - Concerning the State party's measures to deal with the crisis of widows, orphans, child-headed households and street children, the delegation drew attention to the Micro Bankers Trust which was created in collaboration with the Government and other partners to provide small loans to poor but viable groups of people in order to support their various businesses or income generating activities. The Public Welfare Assistance Scheme assisted the most vulnerable groups of persons in society in order to meet their basic needs, particularly in health, education, food and shelter. The Government's support to street children was provided through District Street Children Committees that implemented street children's activities.

Zambian street children a time bomb

ANDnetwork .com, July 15, 2006

[accessed 15 January 2017]

The problem of street children requires economic solutions, Restoration Ministries Reverend Cyril Phiri has observed.  Reverend Phiri who runs a number of christian orphanages in Lusaka, said although the problem of street children seemed partially solved with government’s introduction of Zambia National Service (ZNS) camps, it still remains a time bomb.

Reformed Street Kid Embraces New Life

Abigail Chisenga, The Post, Lusaka, July 14, 2006

[accessed 15 January 2017]

A young man in Kitwe has a new lease on life after spending eleven years in the streets, and he reveals the vices that plague street children, including rampant homosexuality, STIs and drugs.

Dulu Chipampa, 22, who is now a reformed adult and employed by Beautiful Gates, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) assisting to rehabilitate street children in Kitwe, says it is difficult for him to believe that he has come this far.

Chitoba Expresses Concern Over Drug Abuse Among Street Children

Inonge Noyoo, The Post, Lusaka, June 27, 2006

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

[accessed 18 August 2011]

"The vulnerable children are one group which is prone to drug abuse under the influence of substances such as Genkem, Bolstick and these substances have serious effects to their mental development. The commission is working with government departments and NGOs to address the plight of vulnerable children on the street who are abusing substances that are not listed on the schedule such as genkem, bbolstick and alcohol," he said.

Chitoba said the commission has plans to put up a rehabilitation center for street children to undergo treatment without being pressurized into relapse by older street kids. He said drug abuse and trafficking has continued to negatively impact on the lives of children on and off the street.

Aids will orphan 20% of children by 2015

South African Press Association SAPA & Deutsche Presse-Agentur (German Press Agency) DPA, Lusaka, 05 June 2006

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

[accessed 18 August 2011]

By 2015 about 20% of Zambia's children will be orphaned by HIV/Aids, the Department of Foreign Affairs warned on Monday.  Current official estimates indicate that over 1,1-million Zambian children are orphans, mostly as a result of Aids.  About 90 000 have the disease and thousands of others are directly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to high poverty levels, a ministry statement said.  Over 71% of Zambia's six million children live in extreme poverty and deprivation, despite accounting for over half of the country's 10,2-million people.  Reports further indicate that levels of sexually transmitted infections among the hundreds of street children are also high.

SOS Children: Zambian Street Children

SOS Children’s Villages

[accessed 18 August 2011]

• Over 30% of all children under the age of 15 are orphans
• 80% of the people in rural areas live below the poverty line
• Half a million young children are living on the streets, with no one to look after them

Zambia-s 1.5 million street children

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda, August 2, 2002

[accessed 18 August 2011]

One and a half million children in Zambia live on the streets.  AIDS orphans, or the victims of rural poverty, most live in the capital Lusaka, where they scratch a miserable living to the best of their ability, living the law of the jungle.  The smaller or younger boys are often beaten, robbed of money and food and sexually abused by the older or larger ones. It is the law of the jungle.

AIDS Orphans Join The Rank Of Street Children

Jowie Mwiinga, Inter Press Service IPS, Lusaka, December 13, 1999

[accessed 18 August 2011]

[accessed 15 January 2017]

They swarm the central business district of Lusaka like invading locust, hungry, aggressive and destructive.  They move around in menacing little bands, darting away for cover when the police appear, only to re-emerge with renewed determination when the coast is clear.  They are Zambia's AIDS orphans - so it has been assumed for years.  According to official statistics, Zambia has the highest proportion of children orphaned by AIDS in the world.

Street Children High On Sewage

Ishbel Matheson in Lusaka, BBC News, July 30, 1999

[accessed 18 August 2011]

At the Lusaka sewage ponds, two teenage boys plunge their hands into the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top.  “I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life.”

Sex work rife among street children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN PlusNews, Johannesburg, 12 September 2003

[accessed 22 February 2015]

Commercial sex work has become increasingly common among children aged 14 to 16.  When educated about the danger of HIV/AIDS, they say that AIDS is something in the future and that their hunger is a more real and pressing need.

Challenges 2004-2005: For Zambia’s Street Kids, the Outlook is Bleak

Zarina Geloo, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Lusaka, Dec 27, 2004

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are currently over 75,000 children living on the streets of Lusaka, Livingstone, Ndola and Kitwe, the main cities and towns in Zambia. This marks an increase from the 60,000 that were thought to be living rough in 1994.

Another 16-year-old, Masuzyo Muhango – said to be the "longest-serving" street child on Cairo Road, a major thoroughfare in Lusaka – began living rough at age seven. Just three years ago, she says, it was possible earn about 20 dollars a day from begging. Now it is difficult to raise even five dollars, because there are so many more children clamouring for attention.   "I have to offer sex at night or go to some other place where they are fewer street children, because there are so many of us begging," Muhango notes.

"Before we were like a family. I remember some boys would look after me on the streets; we would share whatever food we scavenged and sometimes buy each other clothes," she observes, adding, "But these same boys now want to beat me up and rape me if I do not hand over my days takings. It’s because it is difficult to find money: that’s why our co-operation has broken down and it’s dog-eat-dog."

As Adults Lose Jobs, Children Bring in Wages

Joe Chilaizya, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, LUSAKA, 28 March 1995

[accessed 18 August 2011]

Of the male population aged seven and above, 57% are engaged in an economic activity.  The ballooning problem of child labor is attributed to rising job losses among parents as companies buckle in Zambia's harsh economic climate and a cost-saving government cuts back on its public sector wage bill.  The consequence is that parents are increasingly unable to afford the school fees to educate their children.  The next step is to put them on the streets to supplement family incomes.

HIV/AIDS and Child Labor In Zambia: A Rapid Assessment on the case of the Lusaka, Copperbelt and Eastern Provinces

International Labour Organization (ILO) / International Labour Organization (ILO) , 2003

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

[accessed 2 October 2011]

Job types: vending on the street and in markets, quarrying and stone breaking, fetching water, porterng (kuzezera), household chores or domestic work, digging wells and garbage pits, carpentry, cooking nshima in the markets, cutting grass, picking bottles, and prostitution earnings: the financial contributions of the child were often the only income their families had.

Street Children From Other Towns Flood Livingstone

Mcdonald Chipenzi, The Post, Lusaka, 10 April 2005

[partially accessed 18 August 2011]

Livingstone has experienced an influx of economic street children from other towns.  Most of them were being sent by parents to beg on the streets to support their families.

The Protection Project - Zambia [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - HIV/AIDS, coupled with poverty, has contributed to the proliferation of street children and child labor in Zambia. About 80 percent of Zambia’s population lives in degrading conditions. Poverty pervades both rural and urban areas, pushing most women, adolescents, and children into the informal sector of the economy, where they sell a variety of goods, their labor, or their bodies. Prostitution is rife in major towns and smaller urban areas. Nearly 1 million children are reportedly orphaned in the country, and 75,000 live on the streets. Nearly half of Zambian children, regardless of orphan status, are not enrolled in primary s.  htsccp

Information about Street Children - Zambia [DOC]

[Last access date unavailable]

Background: 47% of the population under 18; life expectancy at birth is 37 years; estimated 75,000 street children in 1996; HIV prevalence rate of 20% for adults between the ages of 15 and 49; estimated number of orphans between 600,000 and 1.2 million. Street children are very mobile between cities; Zambia does not have entire families living on the street.

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