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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           


Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $13,300 in 2008.

On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially was 23.8% in 2004, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the second highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. An expected leveling off in diamond mining production overshadows long-term prospects.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Botswana

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Botswana.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Independent Final Evaluation of the Reducing Exploitive Child Labor in Southern Africa (RECLISA) Project: Botswana Country Report

American Institutes for Research, Cooperative Agreement Number: E-9-K-4-0046 -- 2008

[accessed 22 November 2016]

The early planning documents show that RECLISA was to prevent at-risk children in Botswana from  entering  into  child  labor  by  enrolling them  and  facilitating  their  attendance  in  formal education.  Material  barriers  to  attendance  would  be  addressed  by  either  facilitating  access  to  existing  government  services  or  supplementing  those  services  when  necessary.  The  program would also increase public and government awareness of children’s rights and the prevalence of child labor. Children in the program would be provided with psychosocial support to nurture the set  of  life  skills  necessary  to  attain  improved  outcomes  for  their  lives.  There  would  also  be  a  vocational  training  component  to  equip  the  older  children  with  skills  to  become  employable  or  economically  self-sufficient.  The  vulnerable  groups  specifically  identified  as  beneficiaries  were  street children and children in rural areas where child labor was thought to be most prevalent.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 25 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - The ILO estimated that 13.5 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Botswana were working in 2002.  In remote areas, young children work as cattle tenders, domestic servants and babysitters.  Street children in urban areas, many of whom may be HIV/AIDS orphans, engage in begging and are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 7 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Education was not compulsory. The government reintroduced school fees in 2006. The fees could be waived for children whose family income fell below a certain amount. The government also provided uniforms, books, and other fees for students whose parents were destitute. Students in remote areas received two free meals a day at school. According to 2004 government statistics, approximately 88 percent of children attended school, and an estimated 30 percent of children completed secondary school. Girls and boys attended school at similar rates. School attendance and completion rates were highest in urban areas, where transportation was readily available, and lowest in rural areas, where children often lived far from schools and often assisted their families as cattle tenders, domestic laborers, and child care providers.   Boys and girls younger than 15 received free and equal access to government healthcare centers.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The government worked with NGOs to assist potential trafficking victims by hosting workshops on trafficking issues and by making grants to shelters that provided short- and long-term care for children who lived on the streets

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] According to the 2005-06 labor survey, slightly fewer than 38,000 children between the ages of seven and 17 were employed in the formal sector in 2006. Approximately half of those employed were younger than 14. More than 60 percent of employed children worked in agriculture, 20 percent in retail trade, and 4 percent in private homes. Children also worked as domestic laborers, prostitutes, and in informal bars. Outside of supermarkets they sometimes assisted truck drivers with unloading goods and carried bags for customers. Many orphans also left school to work as caregivers for sick relatives. Most employed children worked up to 28 hours per week.

Committee On Rights Of Child Concludes Thirty-Seventh Session

UN Information Service UNIS, Geneva, 1 October 2004

[accessed 7 April 2011]

The Committee reaffirmed the fact that the various ages defined in the current legislation were not in conformity with the Convention and recommended that the State party expedite the necessary legislative reform in order to establish a definition of the child in conformity with the Convention.  The Committee was also concerned that societal discrimination persisted against vulnerable groups of children, including children with disabilities, street and rural children, children born out of wedlock, orphans and fostered children and children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.  The Committee was deeply concerned at the situation of girls, in particular adolescent girls who, as acknowledged by the State party, suffered marginalization and gender stereotyping which compromised their educational opportunities and made them more vulnerable to sexual violence, abuse and HIV/AIDS.

The Protection Project - Botswana [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - In Botswana and four other African countries—Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—at least 20 percent of adults are infected with HIV/AIDS.  In Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, more than 20 percent of children will be orphaned by 2010.  These children often turn to the streets, where they are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

DO Re-Unites With Her 'Children'

Kagiso Sekokonyane, Staff Writer, Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone), Vol.23 No.123, 21 August 2006

[accessed 7 April 2011]

The problems of the street children are many and varied though they are more or less similar. When she sat down with some of them to inquire why they left their homes, they told her that their parents did not treat them well. "One of these boys told me that he decided to leave his home because his parents were always fighting," she explained.

Botswana: Street Kids Are Treated Like Animals

Chandapiwa Baputaki, Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone),  5 February 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 September 2011]

They go around with empty cartons of milk sniffing glue and staring at passers-by with glassy eyes. They do not seem to care and they look like a bunch of men who have lost the plot some way in their lives. No one seems to care about their welfare or where they get their next meal or where they will spend the night on a given day. Their beds are any corner where they will be when they start dozing and their meal is from any dustbin near any restaurant or supermarket. The streets have become their homes and they are fondly called bo-bashi.

He said that bobashi do not end up on the streets out of choice. He explained that they are forced by their traumatic childhoods that they are exposed to by their parents. He gave an example of a five-year-old who was brought to their station on January 23 after being left in front of Edu-tech College near Gaborone Main Mall. He said when questioning the little girl she revealed that her mother left her and boarded a combi.

Authorities in Francistown vow to apply new strategies

22 May, 2000

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 September 2011]

Health authorities warned that glue sniffing was dangerous to health as this could damage the nervous system Interviewed by BOPA, the Francistown City Council’s Chief Community Development Officer, Polelelo Motshwaedi said the street children numbering more than 15 were a headache to the authorities.  

Ms Motshwaedi said that they were once taken back to their respective schools but returned to the streets to make money through washing cars and doing other odd jobs.

Some of them have become beggars. She said some people once volunteered to assist them but the children were not interested to learn or to be engaged in skills that would bring them long term benefits.

Street Children, Children of Farm Workers, and Children at Risk in Botswana

American Institutes for Research AIR

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 September 2011]

Working though the Botswana National Youth Council and SOS Children’s Villages, AIR’s implementing partners for Botswana, RECLISA will enrol a total of 1,625 children from Gaborone and Gantsi in formal schools and/or in special educational programs.  Of these, 1,100 will come from Gaborone and 525 from Gantsi.  As Botswana’s main economic capital, Gaborone has the largest number of street children, currently estimated at 2,000.  It also has a high number of out-of-school youth who, owing to lack of marketable skills, find themselves at high risk of either resorting to the streets for a livelihood or ending up in exploitive employment.

Reducing Exploitive Child Labour in Southern Africa

[Last access date unavailable]

A 2002 study of Botswana’s street children found that the vast majority of those surveyed were male (94%), with a mean age of 14. 85% had either no formal schooling or incomplete primary education, even though Botswana offers free education up to secondary school level. 83% said that they did not complete school because their parents could not afford it. The most common form of labour performed (76%) was carrying groceries or washing cars.

Most street children in Botswana come from poor families living in urban settlements such as Old Naledi, Bontleng, and Gantsi townships. They survive by begging, stealing and other illegal activities, and many have lost contact with their families. Known in Setswana as bobashi, Botswanan street children also include girls who work under exploitive conditions as house servants or child prostitutes.  HIV/AIDS is a constant threat for these children.

Consortium for Street Children – Botswana

Consortium for Street Children (UK)

[accessed 7 April 2011]

The age expectancy in Botswana is only 30.76 years, primarily because of the impact of the HIV/AIDS virus. More than thirty-seven percent of the population has the HIV/AIDS virus and it is responsible for over 33,000 deaths last year. Many programmes working with street children in Botswana focus on this crisis in the form of prevention and/or medical care.

Street Children In Gaborone, Botswana: Causes And Policy Implications


This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 September 2011]


v  that the children do not live with adults, but instead live in and among a community of children.

v  that these children either work for themselves or for each other in order to find sustenance and pleasure.

v  that the children are driven primarily by economic needs.

v  that they do maintain some form of contact with their families.

v  the children begin their life on the street by a gradual process. Rather than arriving on the streets abruptly, they leave home in a measured manner, at first staying for a night or two, then gradually spending more time away from home.

v  that the children and their parents/guardians have little or no education. The parents are employed with no regular sources of income. The job prospects for both children and parents do not hold much promise, given their levels of training.

v  both the parents and children may differ in terms of the causes of the phenomenon of street children. But they agree that there does not seem to be any future in pursuing their present circumstances.

Qualitative research report on orphans and vulnerable children in Palapye, Botswana

Author: G.N. Tsheko -- Publisher: Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, 2007

[accessed 8 Aug  2013]

Author: G.N. Tsheko

Publisher: Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, 2007

Through a snapshot view drawn from interviews and focus groups in the town of Palapye, this book examines the situation of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Botswana.

SUGGESTIONS FROM RESPONDENTS INCLUDED THE NEED FOR: … government support for NGOs to establish orphanages or community care centres for OVC, especially street children, to ensure that they receive adequate care and are not forced to either accept abuse at home or become street children.

Social Problems in Africa : New Visions

Edited by Apollo Rwomire, ISBN 0-275-96343-8

Praeger Publishers, 2001

Often unemployed and poor, the mother or grandmother becomes overwhelmed by the burden of raising the children unassisted. For their part, the children, upon realizing that they cannot receive minimal support from home, decide to drift to towns to fend for themselves, hence the growing number of street children, the bobashi. Today, in the context of Botswana, they number in the thousands.

There is an estimated more than 1,000 children like Moses in the streets of Botswana. They can be seen at many a car park, alone or in groups, begging, pilfering, pick-pocketing or shop lifting to survive. At night they sleep in gutters, dustbins, doorways, parks, scrap yards, deserted buildings or anywhere they can lay their heads on.

Many suffer from bronchitis or venereal diseases, and show the mental effects of dagga, glue, petrol and any other substance they can get hold of to escape their constant misery.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Botswana",, [accessed <date>]