Growing up on the streets

Growing up on the Streets is an innovative participatory research project following the lives of young people as they live and grow up on the streets of three African cities (Accra, Ghana; Bukavu, DRC and Harare, Zimbabwe). It aims to bridge the gap between legislation and political attitudes, and street children’s realities.

Working with teams in the three countries, the project created a network of over 200 street children and youth, 18 of whom acted as research assistants, gathering information on the lives of their peers. With over 3,000 interviews and focus groups, it forms the largest ever database of the lives of young street people.

The innovative concept and research design was developed by street children and youth, employing a capability (rather than vulnerability) approach to their lives. This regular, long-term commitment provides unique insights into the patterns of their daily lives, struggles, capabilities and coping strategies as street children/youth seek to create adult lives they value.

Analysis of the research work continues, with the expanded knowledge exchange phase achieving international impact through engagement with individuals, communities, political leaders and other stakeholders, including the police, judiciary, social work, schools, churches, charities, NGOs, the public and the media.


Funding details:
Funded by the Backstage Trust and the ESRC.

Research team:
Lorraine van Blerk, Chair in Human Geography, University of Dundee.
Wayne Shand, Independent Research Consultant.
Janine Hunter, Geography, School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee.

2012 to 2018.

Childhoods, poverty, Africa, street children, street youth.

Briefing Papers and the Growing up on the Street Knowledge Exchange Training Pack are freely available at:

Developed by Learning Technology Section, University of Edinburgh  |  Privacy Policy
Banner Images: © NHS Scotland, 2011 & ©