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Base de données d'évaluation

Evaluation report

GHA 1999/800: The Exodus: The Growing Migration of Children from Ghana's Rural Areas to the Urban Centers

Author: Beauchemin, E.

Executive summary


Catholic Action for Street Children was founded seven years ago. It has since become Ghana's leading non-governmental organization on this issue and has built up a considerable data bank on Accra's street child population. But CAS has had to rely on children's testimonies, second or third hand evidence and conjecture to determine the factors behind the growing exodus.

Purpose / Objective

Together with UNICEF, the Catholic Action for Street Children (CAS) embarked on a four-month study to discover the reasons that are leading more and more rural children to go to the towns and cities.


The research was conducted from December 1998 to March 1999 in five of the ten regions in Ghana: Upper East, Northern, Ashanti, Western and Eastern. We selected these regions because most of the street children visiting the CAS refuge in Accra come from these areas. In each region, we conducted research in four to six districts and, in almost every district, we visited two villages or towns. We selected the villages randomly but tried to get a representative sample.

We visited over 50 cities, towns and villages and spoke to as wide a range of people as possible. They included: District and Municipal Assembly officials, regional Departments of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Youth Council, non-governmental organizations dealing with street children, headmasters, teachers, religious leaders, village elders, assemblymen and unit committee members.

We administered questionnaires to 805 pupils, mostly in junior secondary schools (JSS), as well as 174 children in the same age bracket who had never attended school, had dropped out or had completed JSS3. We interviewed 282 parents between the ages of 35 and 50 and, therefore, likely to have children between 12 and 18 years old. We also spoke with 53 children living on the streets of cities other than Accra.

Key Findings and Conclusions

In all the regional capitals and many smaller towns and cities, there are many children living on the streets. Most of the children we interviewed were between the ages of 10 and 18. They had lived on the streets for several months or years. Nearly half of the randomly selected parents that were surveyed had children who had left for the city. There were significant regional differences. 14% of the children were under the age of 10 when they left; 64% were between 12 and 18. Almost all parents know where their children have gone. The children only contact their parents once or twice a year. 8% of the parents have completely lost touch with their children.

Of the children who were not in school, the vast majority did not want to stay in the village. The one constant in their stories was the desire to escape what they viewed as the hopelessness of rural life and farming. Costs and lack of parental support for education are the main reasons for not attending school.

Most parents are loath to admit it, but during our conversations with officials, local representatives and non-governmental organizations, it became clear that many parents are directly or indirectly putting pressure on their children to leave their homes and villages. In some cases, it is because parents are genuinely unable to care for their children; in others, it is because parents believe that a better future awaits their children in the city. All too many parents we spoke to threw up their hands in despair and said that someone had to assist them because they could not help themselves or their children.

Children and their rural parents do not realise that their urban brethren are themselves often struggling. They are convinced that their relatives in the city will be able to help their children get a better education or vocational training. Most children would like to get vocational training or become an apprentice but neither option is available in most villages.


School needs to be more affordable, with higher quality and more vocational training. Scholarship schemes introduced in many districts need to be expanded. There is a great need for sexual reproductive health education as well.

Parents must be made aware that the madams who recruit rural children to work selling ice water or black plastic bags in the city do not have noble goals and do not fulfil their promises. Parents who knowingly give or sell their children to these women must be prosecuted. The women who keep children in inhuman conditions must also be vigorously prosecuted.

In almost all the villages we visited, parents were crying out for micro-credit. The Common Fund is helping to respond to the need, but the demand is too great and the funds too limited to make a significant impact. District assemblies must be encouraged to increase the capital available to extend loans. The Ministry of Agriculture extension officers are failing to provide farmers with the assistance, knowledge and expertise they need. Farmers see their yields dwindling but are at a loss as to what they should do.

In some villages, people were only too well aware of their plight and were more than willing to contribute both financially and in manpower to improve their situation. But they feel that decisions are often made in district or regional capitals or in Accra without consulting them. These decisions often run contrary to their own wishes and needs. Local people need to have an integral role in the decision-making process.

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Report information





Child Protection - Other

Catholic Action for Street Children


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