A groundbreaking new report published yesterday by British and South African organisations is calling for legislation to recognise the rights of street children.
Street Action and the Centre of African Studies are among the leading NGOs behind the launch of 'Including Street Children: A situational Analysis of Street Children', the first report of its kind documenting the physical and psychosocial health of street children in Durban, South Africa.
Street Action is an NGO based in the UK working with local partners in different parts of the world to tackle the complex needs of children living on the streets.
Street children have a right to be included on the agenda that seeks to protect those who are marginalised, forgotten and unable to protect themselves, say the authors of the report - which focuses on how the children describe their own lives and the issues they face living on the streets.
'Including Street Children' challenges the gaps emerging between practice on the ground and child rights policy at national and international level.
Too many policies and interventions fail to take into account children’s own views and therefore fail to address the holistic context in which children such as street children live and experience their vulnerability, it says.
Speaking at the launch of the report on Thursday 24 February 2011, Lord Paul Boateng, Street Action Patron and former High Commissioner to South Africa, declared: "This important and inspirational piece of research holds out our best hope of ensuring we have evidence-based policy when we formulate our responses to the needs of people on the street."
He continued: "All too often the importance of research and the need to listen is neglected. Let’s take this and fly with it and really transform the lives of children and young people, particularly where they’re on the street, vulnerable and at risk."
Joe Walker, co-author of the report and Director of Street Action, added: "Street children have a right to be heard. I hope this report will be a stepping stone to putting street children back on the agenda, but will also be a catalyst towards producing more research that is driven by the Umthombo’s of this world and together we can begin to see real change."
Also speaking at the event were Stephen Chan, Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS) and Tom Hewitt, Chief Executive of Umthombo Durban.
'Including Street Children' is a collaborative study led by the University of KwaZulu Natal, Umthombo Street Children and Street Action. Glynis Clacherty, Director of Clacherty Associates in South Africa and Joe Walker, Director of Street Action are the principle authors of this report.
The research was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). It can be downloaded at http://streetaction.org/includingstreetchildren 
More on Street Action: http://streetaction.org 
More on the Centre for African Studies at SOAS: http://www.soas.ac.uk/cas/