The Perils of Unsupervised Children in Africa

positive black kids on town street
Photo by Julia Volk on
group photo of a children

The world’s homeless children are growing at an alarming rate, and the problem of child homelessness in Africa has received little attention from the media or the public. With local charities ill-equipped to deal with the growing number of children on the streets, it’s time for the world to take notice and take action to prevent more children from becoming homeless in Africa and around the world.

Africa – A Troubled Continent

While it is commonplace to picture Africa as a continent overflowing with famine and violent conflict, there is another problem that plagues our brothers and sisters: children who grow up without parents or adult supervision. These young men and women live alone on the streets, barely able to survive against hunger and crime. Some are orphaned by war; others simply have been abandoned by their families

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African Children – Where Are They Coming From?

Before diving into possible solutions to fix African children, it’s important to understand what’s causing them to end up on their own. In short, they’re coming from all over Africa. The problem is most prevalent in West and Central Africa where these children are seeking work on cotton plantations. In Ghana alone, there are 1 million children that have been orphaned by AIDS and another 1 million-plus working for money (in lieu of an education). These kids often head out into regional cities seeking a better life—and end up exploited along the way. To help curb orphaned kids in Africa, Western nations can develop stronger policies that incentivize companies that operate abroad to provide child care services for their workers.

Reasons Why Kids Become Homeless

The reasons kids become homeless vary from family to family. In America, it’s often economic—low-wage jobs don’t pay enough for a family to afford housing and still meet their other needs. In less-developed countries, such as parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, children often run away from home because they’re being forced into child labor or child marriage. Today we’ll explore why children leave home and how they survive when they have no one watching over them.

Why Children Leave Home and How They Survive When They Have No One Watching Over Them

Children often live with their families until they are 18 years old. However, it is not uncommon for them to leave home between the ages of 10 and 13 due to many factors such as lack of parental supervision or abusive treatment by guardians. Children that have suffered from neglect or abuse at home sometimes run away and become street children who earn money for survival through begging, performing, and/or working on the streets. For example, there is an estimated 1 million children living on African cities’ streets—most of them in Nigeria and other West African countries according to UNICEF statistics released earlier last year. Other reports estimate these numbers much higher due to poor assessment methods used by child protection officials; though most NGOs agree that these numbers still represent a dire situation for African youth at risk.

Is There a Solution for Their Future?

Every year, thousands of children in Africa drop out of school for one reason or another. While some may have had a run-in with authority and been expelled, others simply feel their future is bleak and begin to squander their time on frivolous things instead. However, if these children were given access to free education from primary through college and beyond, perhaps they would not have dropped out.

What You Can Do to Help

In certain areas, a lack of proper schooling facilities, coupled with homelessness and extreme poverty, conspire to leave children with little hope for a better future. If you want to help those growing up in such an environment but don’t know where to start, consider donating your time or money to local schools that provide relief services such as healthcare and psychosocial support. Or even donating to Ubuntu Village who uses every donation gotten for Kenya to feed hungry children and supplemental food for the disabled in Kenya.  We are currently feeding dozens of children every week and hope to feed more with your help.

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Ubuntu Village will be traveling to Africa soon and we would like to document this trip and any other trips taken in a blog format.

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