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Child Mobility and Rural Vulnerability in Senegal

  • 2010
  • Working Paper
Kielland, Anne & Gaye, Ibrahima

Abstract: The fact that so many children leave their parents has been a rising preoccupation among child protection agencies in West Africa over the past decade. Detected cases of abuse and exploitation of these children have caused concern and raised suspicions of organized child trafficking. Yet, in many cases the relocation of children is an important strategy to protect them and enhance their opportunities, and also to help families manage the many risks to which they are exposed. Any efforts aimed at curbing child mobility should therefore try to reduce exploitation, while simultaneously respect practices that represent vital risk management strategies for children and families with few other options. If children are likely to be made more vulnerable by the risk management strategies adopted by their parents, alternative safety nets should be put in place to protect them. Compared to some neighboring countries, Senegal has a relatively low child mobility rate. Yet, concern has been raised with regards to the vulnerability of girls who work as domestic servants and boys who leave to study the Koran within informal structures. To learn more about their numbers and the reasons why they leave, Fafo and ENEA, supported by the World Bank trust fund TFESSD, in 2009 launched a rural household survey that aimed to quantify child mobility practices and identify the features of the households from which the children come. The vulnerability of rural households to risks and shocks related to climatic conditions like drought, irregular rainfall, animal disease and locust was of special concern.

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