"Every child needs a trustworthy adult in their life"
Every child needs a trustworthy adult in their life


Making street children visible

StreetInvest has developed a package to facilitate the vital collection of street child data: a sector leading headcount methodology, supported by our innovative data processing technology StreetPoint, headcount training expertise and the people to deliver it.

What is headcounting?

Headcounting is a social research and measurement tool. Effective headcounts result in clear identification of not only the number of children in a specified location, but their gender, age and activities. These insights are vital to inform effective practice and influence policy for street children.

Our methodology is observational and is based purely on looking, listening and learning and does not rely on children to participate.
We developed our observational headcount methodology in Ghana in the 1990's. It has been used by third parties including UNICEF and was recognised as the sector's leading methodology by the Consortium for Street Children in 2015. So what makes our methodology different?

- Children are counted in categories such as 'fixed business', 'commercial sex worker' and 'permanently on the street', which provides richer insight into their lives. The headcount results therefore tell us not just how many children live on the streets, but who they are.
- The headcount is conducted by multiple teams in designated key areas of the location. Teams then counter check each location and conduct counts at different times of day to capture children's movements, for example, sex workers may be more visible at night. 
- Group work and discussion is a critical part of the process and is covered in our Headcount Training. Its role is to compare and contrast the numbers of street children who observed in the same locations. 
- Local context is always taken in account, as each team has several participants who possess good knowledge of the children and the local area.

Where has our methodology been used?

Kolkata, India, 2016: This headcount covered the realtively small locations of Sealdah, DumDum and Howrah railway stations. These areas presented unique challenges as they are densley populated by street children and see an influx of millions of commuters everyday. The count took six days and 914 street children were recorded. 

Bugiri-Naluwerere, Uganda 2015: The headcount was conducted with the Uganda Reproductive Health Bureau (URHB) over a period of fivedays and found a total of 746 street children on the streets.

Kumasi, Ghana, 2013: As part of the ‘Empowering Street Girls, Building Life Skills’ initiative funded by Barclays Ghana, the Kumasi headcount took place over nine days in five areas of the city. The number of children counted was 7,827, 398 of whom were recorded as permanently on the streets.

Mwanza, Tanzania, 2012: The headcount was co-ordinated by Railway Children in partnership with StreetInvest, Mwanza city council, local police and local NGOs. 1,892 street-connected children were counted, of whom the majority were of school-going age. 

Sierra Leone National Headcount, 2011: StreetInvest, with Street Child, Action for the Rights of Children (Sierra Leone) and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGSA) developed training and implementation of a national headcount in 2011. 49,698 children were found to be on the streets in Sierra Leone. The headcount assisted stakeholders to identify a national strategy for working with and protecting the rights of every street child and youth in the country.

Ethiopia, 2010 - 2011: Commissioned by UNICEF, StreetInvest implemented headcounts that took place in Addis Ababa in November 2010 and in Adama in February 2011. 11,830 and 4,796 Street Children were counted on the streets of Addis Ababa and Adama respectively.

  • Do I Count if you Count me?

    CSC Briefing Paper 2015

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