Street Children in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria: Br Beyond Economic Reason

Nikereuwem Stephen Ekpenyong, Lawrence Udisi


THE PHENOMENON OF street children has become a global problem. There are as many reasons for being on the street as there are street children. In Nigeria, as in many developing countries, there is a general belief amongst scholars that children “abandon” their families and migrate to the street because of economic poverty. These scholars argue that children whose basic material needs cannot be met within the household move to the street. This paper examines this argument through the analysis of detailed empirical research with street children in Akwa Ibom State, South-South, Nigeria. It found that social factors such as the belief in child witchcraft lie behind most street migration and, in particular, that moves to the street are closely associated with violence to, and abuse of, children within the household and local community. These findings are consistent with the wider literature on street migration from other countries. The paper suggested that in Nigeria, those who seek to reduce the flow of children to the streets need to focus on social policy, especially on how to reduce the excessive control and emotional, physical and sexual violence that occurs in some households. Economic growth and reductions in income poverty will be helpful, but they will not be sufficient to reduce street migration by children in Akwa Ibom State in particular and Nigeria generally.


Street children; Akwa Ibom state; Nigeria; Beyond economic reason; Economic poverty; Poor households

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