The government has initiated moves to address the increasing number of street dwellers across the country as it launches a campaign to get them off the streets.
The campaign, dubbed, “Operation get off the street now for a better life,” is aimed at rescuing those vulnerable, including the disabled, and encourage the youth working and living on the streets to seek shelter.
Recent statistics from the Department of Social Welfare indicate that about 300,000 persons currently live and work on the streets of Ghana.
The number represents more than twice the figure recorded in 2011 which stood at 60,495 comprised of migrant children, urban dwellers and adults among other smaller vulnerable groups.
Among other objectives, the rescue project is aimed at identifying the number of persons on the streets, profiling and integrating them with their parents, caregivers, families and community in the next five years.
Its target group includes female head porters, hawkers, child and adult beggars as well as those contracted to push physically challenged persons. The rest are persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, families on the streets, displaced persons (international migrants) and ‘begging contractors’.
Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, announcing the project at a news conference in Accra, described the project as a practical measure to keep children and the youth off the streets.
Phase one of the operation would include the sensitisation of the public and the intended target group, mapping of hotspot areas and identification of shelters across the regions, data collection, management and analysis, re-integration activities for children of school going age, skills training and sending persons with disability to rehabilitation centres.
Phase two includes linking of street persons to social protection interventions such as the LEAP programme, NHIS, Ghana School feeding program and Free SHS package. It will also include linking of persons on the street to technical and vocational institutions to acquire skills for employment and job creation such as COVET, linking of persons on the street to employable interventions such as Youth Enterprise Support (YES), and Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
Also, phase three focuses on the training of persons on the streets to take advantage of the opportunities in the reforestation programmes and the hospitality industry.
Ms Djaba said the project would be implemented concurrently in all the regions, adding that the Ministry would collaborate with the general public including faith-based organisations, traditional leaders, donor partners and the media to support the initiative to eradicate ‘streetism’ in the country.
Reverend Father Andrew Campbell, the Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra, said the spate of ‘streetism’ in the country reflects the breakdown of family systems in the country.
He called for more social workers to volunteer in sensitising street children on good moral practices to secure the nation’s future.
By ADR Daily Newsdesk