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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Hollow Statistics

Government's estimate of street children :

As government we are greatly concerned about the plight of children living on the streets because of the risks that they are exposed to. According to the last study undertaken by government, the number of street children was estimated at 13,500 and it is therefore important that initiatives meant to address this problem such as street children rehabilitation and integration programmes must be fully supported by all stakeholders...
A recent independent assessment :
The number of street children in Zambia almost doubled over the 1990s. National studies conducted in 1991 and 2004 estimated the number of street children in Zambia to be approximately 35000 and 75000, respectively (Tacon and Lungwangwa 1991; Zambian Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development 2004). This represents an increase from about 0.9% to 1.6% of Zambian children living on the street.
The first rule of policy development is to understand the scale of the problem. The government believes the figure of 13,500 while independent assessment estimate the figure can be as much as 75,000. This inevitably means that any solutions by government are unlikely to be adequate. These are not theoretical issues. As I have noted in the past issues of street children read across to three other areas :  child labour, child abuse and child trafficking. We therefore have to get the numbers right. More importantly, can you really trust a policy official who can't even count?

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