The Quest for Survival: Street Children and the Informal Sector in Zimbabwe




informal sector, poverty, survival, livelihood, resiliency, empowerment


Despite an increase in studies focusing on street children in Zimbabwe, there is limited research on street children in the informal sector. In this article, I explore the informal activities of street children in their quest to survive on the streets of the Harare Metropolitan Municipality in Zimbabwe. The survey data were derived from 202 street children aged between 6 and 18 years who were purposively selected in the Harare Metropolitan Province. A descriptive research design and a questionnaire were used to collect quantitative data. The article draws from the resilience theory that informs various survival strategies adopted by street children in response to stresses and shocks triggered by the harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe. The quantitative data gathered were analysed using descriptive analysis and presented in the form of pie charts, bar graphs and tables. The findings revealed that street children are embarking on livelihood activities such as street vending, car washing, street parking, waste recycling, luggage carrying and various part-time jobs. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the by-laws of the City of Harare restrict informal activities on the street, leading to livelihood strategies such as bribery of the municipal authorities, nocturnal trading and whistling to alert others that they are being raided. Drawing on the findings of the study, it was concluded that, contrary to dominant theoretical and empirical works that conceptualise street children as helpless, street children have the agency to engage actively in creative survival strategies.


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Author Biography

Constance Gunhidzirai, University of Johannesburg

Johannesburg Business School


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How to Cite

Gunhidzirai, Constance. 2023. “The Quest for Survival: Street Children and the Informal Sector in Zimbabwe”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 35 (1):20 pages.



Received 2022-05-13
Accepted 2022-11-14
Published 2023-05-09