Bayat, Farid, Class of 2015 – (Afghanistan)

Practicum Summary:

Street Children in Kabul City, Afghan Children After Decades of War: Challenges and Opportunities

Farid’s study examines the situation of street children in Kabul City and seeks to understand the reasons behind child labor in urban areas in Afghanistan. The purpose of this research is to advocate for street children through the Afghan Voluntary Network and the Child Protection Action Network. Three decades of civil war in Afghanistan carried heavy consequences; often children lost their parents in conflict or one of them became disabled. In result, children often abandoned education to help support their families by working. Under Taliban rule, women are not permitted to work, so male children and adolescents must enter the work force as the head of household. According to the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment conducted in 2007, roughly 1.9 million children, 21% percent of 6-17 year olds, are child laborers in Afghanistan. Using a qualitative approach, Farid conducted focus group discussions, semi-structured questionnaires, informal conversations, and observations to collect his data. Through his data analysis, Farid discovered the main causes of child street labor are poverty, addiction to opium, displacement, unemployment, a war affected family, and a family with a disabled head of household. He also highlights the negative effects of short term, donor-driven projects conducted by NGOs such as overlapping work, lack of expertise in the field, and a failure to recognize the needs of children. In order to ameliorate the situation, Farid recommends that the Afghan government provide educational and economic opportunities for street children, promote child advocacy through volunteerism, collect accurate data about the needs of street children through the government, and develop a plan to fight opium addiction.