Social protection continues to gain increased attention in Uganda’s national development discourse and beyond, because of its ability to mitigate risk and vulnerability perpetuated by poverty. Despite this impetus, less research has been undertaken to expanding social protection to children living on the streets. Yet, Uganda’s increase in urbanization has been associated with the high influx of children living on the streets in some major towns, especially Kampala. Therefore, this study sought to examine social protection mechanisms for children living on the streets of Uganda, a case study of Kampala. This qualitative study was conducted using content analysis and in-depth interviews with both key informants and children living on the streets. The study found that in-kind social protection services existed but hardly accessed. In some cases, these services were accessed through third parties. The government outlawed provision of services to the children while on the streets as a deterrent, but counterproductive measure, to minimize their influx into Kampala city. However, there was in-kind social protection support for children withdrawn from the streets, under rehabilitation, characterized by severe government underfunding, donor driven, and charity, not human rights based. The study contends that a change in national investment priorities, to include social protection of children living on the streets, can transform the lives of children living on the streets and their communities.
Key words: Social Protection, children living on the streets, poverty, cash grants, in-kind support.
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