COVID-19 and Street Connected Children Impacts, Responses and Opportunities

Ruth Edmonds, Shona Macleod - Consortium for Street Children

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a biological phenomenon and is laying bare social, political and economic inequalities in a way not witnessed in recent times. Society’s most vulnerable and most invisible populations, including marginalised populations in low- and middle-income countries, are on course to suffer disproportionately from the social and economic effects. As vaccines are developed and countries compete to purchase them it becomes increasingly clear that those in the Global South will be the last to receive sufficient numbers of vaccines for their populations. This overview considers the effect of the pandemic on street-connected children, meaning those who live or work on or have another strong connection to the street, and those who work with them. It draws on data gathered from members of the Consortium for Street Children’s network of over 180 community organisations, national and international non-governmental organisations, researchers, advocates and on-the-ground practitioners working in 135 countries. Due to the on-going nature of the pandemic, evidence of the impact of COVID-19 remains limited, including a lack of empirical research into the effects on street-connected children.

This overview is based on the experiences and observations of CSC network members and the children they support. Information was gathered about impacts and responses via email, online forms, and regionally based network meetings, as well as phone-based interviews. Much of this data collection was undertaken in the first few months of the virus’s spread around the world, with supplementary information added as circumstances continue to change. Information was compiled into a spreadsheet and thematically analysed to discern the core impact and response categories and descriptions. This overview is divided into three main sections:

  • Section 1 presents key categories of the impacts of the pandemic on street-connected children, including the effect of the virus itself, the measures to constrain its spread and the socio-economic conditions it has brought about.
  • Section 2 presents key categories of the responses being launched by communitybased organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the authorities that are concerned with street-connected children populations.
  • Section 3 offers some potential opportunities for street-connected children and the wider sector in view of these impacts and responses to the pandemic.