Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | Ugandan members of parliament have tasked the government to mitigate the increasing number of street children especially in urban centres.
The call followed a motion moved by the chairperson of the parliamentary forum on children Bernard Atiku (Ind., Ayivu) to commemorate street connected children. The day is observed on 12th April.
“This day is aimed at giving millions of street connected children a voice and drawing to the attention of the governments and civil society an issue that has been ignored for a long time,” said Atiku.
Seconding the motion, Anna Adeke (Ind., Youth, Female, and National) blamed the increasing number of street related children on regional imbalance.
“I met a 7 year old girl from Mbale District who had suffered from sexual abuse; these issues happen because of the regional imbalance in development driving people to Kampala and its peripheral hoping to access better opportunities,” she said.
Adeke who is also a shadow minister on youths and children affairs urged the government to consider regional governance adding that most children on the street are from particular regions of the country.
Hon. Frederick Angura (NRM, Tororo South) supported the motion saying, “The children on the streets are from our own communities, so we must improvise ways of making sure that they are well taken care of and can access the necessary resources as children in other communities.”
Angura urged MPs to talk to the parents in their communities to make sure that they identify issues driving the children out of their villages.
Allan Ssewanyana (DP, Makindye West) advised the government to find a way of accommodating children on the street because they are useful to the country.
“These children have the potential to become great citizens if well handled. For example we have sportsmen who have come from the streets and even MPs because of various programs within the city that took in these individuals and nurtured them to what they are today,” he said.
Ssewanyana further noted that there have been opportunities for these children to go to school where they have performed exceptionally well.
Terrence Achia Naco (NRM, Bokora County) said that there are some people who get children from villages and bring them to the streets to collect money. “The government should pick interest in this vice and crack down on the perpetrators,” he said.
For her part, the state minister for children and youth affairs Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi attributed the increase in the number of street children in Uganda to mushrooming Non-Government organizations who are using them through writing proposals to get funds from donors.
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, asked the Minister in charge of Youth Affairs to present a comprehensive report on the matter to Parliament.
“We want you to be sufficiently prepared and return to Parliament with a proper explanation because children welfare is something that touches on certain government.
Before the debate, the Mps first watched a documentary by Dwelling Places, local Christian organization that works to give a better life to homeless or abandoned children.
The documentary played on the floor of parliament was highlighting the challenges that street children go through.