Poverty pushes children to streets, child labour

Wednesday October 07 2020

According to the National Children Council, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the child labour and streets begging. Programmes meant to support welfare of the children have not been successful. PHOTO | Cyril Ndegeya


The prolonged closure of schools is forcing children from vulnerable families to venture into employment.

For instance, Jackson Mugisha, 16, from Munyiginya sector in Rwamagana district has been forced to engage in income-generating jobs to supoort his family’s income.

“Besides helping my mother in the market, I help as well other people in the market in various activities like moving stuff or watching over their things, and I can get somewhere around Rwf500 and Rwf1000,” Mugisha told Rwanda Today.

Various urban areas have seen a large influx of street children coming from different parts of the country to join the already crowded street life, creating an uphill task for the concerned institutions.

Unlike Mugisha’s case, 11-year old boy only identified as Kadogo from Rulindo district cites family’s poor liv-ing conditions and mistreatment as among causes that pushed them to the streets.

“We ate once in a day and my father has other wives, so I came here to look for money,” Kadogo.


Hanging out with other two children in Gatsata suburb, who hail from Gicumbi and Rulindo districts, the young boys look clad in a dirty black dress and an oversized sweater, barefooted and scared-looking.

According to the right groups, with the pandemic continuing to affect the source of living of the many families, the low-income earning families have been worst hit.

Following the closure of the schools, the efficiency of Rwanda’s child protection programmes have been in the spotlight following an increase in the number of children pushed to the streets by poverty and instability in households, Rwanda Today has learnt.

The increase has sparked public security and social risk concerns as the incoming children get exposed to the coronavirus or abuse and involvement in the crime.

An analysis of child labour and its impact on child rights in the country carried out by the National Commission for Human Rights has indicated that cases of child labour have increased.

According to the report that analysed the status since the coronavirus pandemic broke out until May, 82.9 per cent of the respondents were from the first and second categories of the social classification.

“Family poverty is one of the root cause of the child labour in Rwanda… The children who were found in child labour activities wear dirty clothes, almost no shoes, had chronic hunger with almost no hope for their future,” Noted that report.

The Analysis, which collected views from nearly 500 children, indicated that 48.5 per cent of the children in the labour are working to supplement their families’ income, while 3.3 per cent work to learn new skills that may help them in the future.

According to the report most of the children are engaging in cutting and hawking firewood for sell, cooking, washing clothes and taking care of children.