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Gov't unveils robust plan to give better life to 300,000 street dwellers

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has unveiled plans to move over 300,000 hawkers, Head Porters (Kayayei) and beggars off the streets of Accra and other parts of Ghana for more dignified and a better life.

The programme dubbed “#Operation Get off the Streets for a Better Life”, 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.

It would also ensure that target groups  are completely cleared from the streets.

The target groups include Kayayei, hawkers, children who are beggars, 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'.

Addressing the Media in Accra, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba said that the increasing number of persons on the streets is an indication of the weakened extended family value system and parental neglect among others.

She indicated that the operation would be carried out in three phases; the short term, medium term and long term.

The phase one of the #Operation Get off the Streets for Better Life would include the sensitization 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 of children of school going age, skills training and sending persons with disability to rehabilitation centers.

The phase two would also include the 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), Planting for Food and Jobs, One Village, and the One Dam, One District, One Factory.

The phase three of #Operation Get off the Streets for a Better Life will focus on the training of persons on the streets to take advantage of the reforestation programmes and the hospitality industry. They will be linked to the Youth Employment Agency and planting for food and jobs.

Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba noted that Ghana had developed many laws and policies which she said had not been effectively implemented. She, therefore, called for an intensification of sensitisation and enforcement of these laws and implementation of policies and programmes to protect Ghanaian people.

Some of the laws she identified include the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 516), Children’s (Amendment’s Act, Act 937 of 2016), Juvenile Justice Act (Act 635), Domestic Violence (Act 732), Child and Family welfare policy, the Juvenile Justice Policy, Human Trafficking Act (Act 692), Persons with Disability Act 2006 (Act 715), Beggars and Destitute Act (NLCD 392 of 1969), Mental Health Act 2012 among many others.

She emphasised that the new programme intends to ensure that every citizen of Ghana had improved access to quality social services and livelihood activities to reflect both international and national obligations such as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), most importantly Goal 1, 2 and 5.

“The Social Welfare Department under the Ministry conducted a census on street children in the Greater Accra Region in 2011. They discovered that about 60,495 children live and work on the street. In this number, they are 66% migrant children and 18% urban dwellers among other smaller groups. Statistical evidence indicates that there is approximately about 300,000 persons on the street, who are the targets of this project”.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection she indicated, is mandated to lead and ensure that the rights and freedoms of vulnerable people are protected. 

She said that the streets are not safe for vulnerable people but rather the home is the best place for a better life.

“This is a call for action for all persons in Ghana, the Media, Traditional Leaders, Churches, Mosques to join and share ideas with us as we begin the processes for the implementation of this initiative. The media will remain a critical part of the advocacy and awareness creation".

Otiko Djaba said that the initiative #Operation Get Off of the Streets Now” requires massive funding support, and called on the goodwill of development partners, all stakeholders and the private sector to step up their support for sustaining the initiative.