Livelihood strategies of street children in Durban : a participatory, rights-based approach to street-based interventions.
There are a number of different factors that are increasing the numbers of children on the streets in Durban. These factors include globalisation, macro-economic policy, poverty, and HIV/AIDS. On arrival, these children are faced with abuse and harassment, yet in this tough environment, children of the street are able to make a home and live as small family units who employ livelihood strategies in order to survive. The present study investigates whether there are alternatives to the institutionalisation of street children and discusses alternative, rights-based approaches. Furthermore, this study seeks to engage with street children and overcome their homeless, minor status and believes that children of the street have valuable knowledge of their own situation, which if unearthed, can be invaluable when planning future interventions. With this in mind a participatory methodology was employed which encouraged the children to speak for themselves. The present study utilised Participatory Rural Appraisal tools as a way of generating information and insight and it also draws on Participatory Action Research in that it involved young field workers. The present study discovered that children of the street are like other children and poor people in general but are often portrayed as deviants on a way-ward path. In spite of this, children of the street are unswerving in their efforts to survive. The presentation of data reveals that children of the street are generally ingenious and resourceful although their efforts are often hampered by dangers and threats inherent to street life. With this in mind, a community based vulnerability assessment was employed to suggest ways of reducing risk. The present study concludes that a supportive policy environment, a change in attitude and practical recommendations are all needed for improved street-based interventions and the livelihood security of street children.