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Several initiatives have already been taken to deal with the phenomenon of street children


Mar 22, 2022

BUJUMBURA March 22nd (ABP) – The government of Burundi and civil society organizations (CSOs) involved in the field of children have already taken several initiatives to deal with the phenomenon of children in street situations. This is read in the document of the national strategy for the prevention of the phenomenon of street children in Burundi and their community reintegration recently adopted by the Cabinet.

Indeed, in December 2013, a national strategy for preventing and combating the phenomenon of street children was launched after its adoption by the Government. It gave guidelines for dealing with this phenomenon. CSOs and NGOs working in the field of child protection have contributed to its operationalization.

In addition, the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi enacted in 2018 reaffirms its attachment to the protection of the family as the natural unit of society and that it benefits from the special protection of the State. The same constitution prescribes that “Every child has the right, on the part of his/her family, society and the State, to the special protection measures required by his/her condition as a minor”. Other legal texts have been adopted.

On the political level, the alternative care strategy has just been drawn up and its implementation has already begun. The updating of the child protection policy, the establishment of the National Day of Local Solidarity are other actions carried out in that context.

Moreover, the same document specifies that since 2018, the government has initiated a program for the withdrawal/reintegration of street children under the “Rapid Results Initiatives (IRR)” approach. The children are withdrawn from the streets and brought to transit centers for rapid reintegration into their communities of origin, after 2 to 3 weeks of supervision. All the partners were involved in that operation, including the local administration. In concrete terms, the Rapid Results Initiative has made it possible to return 4,005 children to families, while 1,396 adult beggars were sent to their provinces of origin.

This strategy document also shows that the social and legal environment has also changed significantly in recent years, in particular the adoption of the 2017 penal code which penalizes begging as well as the fact of wandering without a job, without means of existence and without proof of residence. Despite all those actions, street children remain a reality with the same ramifications of problems as before.

However, the management of the phenomenon of street children is intended to be delicate since it responds to both security and child rights protection issues, coupled with a context where certain community structures, in particular certain families, cannot more to correctly assume their role of protection. Thus, the updating of the national strategy for the prevention of the phenomenon of street children in Burundi and their community reintegration as both political and strategic orientation tools, is situated in that context, which must inspire any actor in the field.