Ecuador reduces significantly the number of children involved in street begging

Posted on January 28, 2014 • Filed under: Culture, Ecuador, Social Issues reported- So far in 2013, Ecuador recorded 3,000 cases of street begging, which shows a clear reduction regarding this issue because in 2007 there were nearly 100,000 cases of children on the streets, said Doris Soliz, Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion, during the launch of the campaign ‘Da Dignidad por un Ecuador sin Mendicidad’ (‘Give Dignity for an Ecuador without Mendicity’).

In 2007 the Ecuadorian government developed a strategy to approach people in mendicity situations, in streets and roads, during the holiday season (Christmas and New Year’s). In 2011 this initiative turned into a nationwide permanent integrated care program focused in Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Bolívar, Cañar, Azuay, Loja, El Oro, Manabí, Guayas, Santa Elena, Esmeraldas and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas these provinces are considered to be the origin and receivers of mendicity.

In 2012 nearly 214,000 people were approached and there was a reduction of children, adolescents, seniors and disabled individuals begging in the streets and roads. Currently, this strategy is a public policy and involves a joint effort between several ministries and social organizations.

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Decentralized autonomous governments, foundations, religious organizations and entities decided to get involved with this effort and the intervention proposal to implement it in their territories and they signed 30 social services provision agreements with this Ministry.

Doris Soliz noted that the eradication of mendicity and child labor is a joint effort between the State and the citizenry. The Minister explained that throughout the year the campaign ‘Da Dignidad por un Ecuador sin Mendicidad’ creates awareness among citizens that handing out money, food or clothing in the streets does not resolve poverty and mendicity, but it rather aggravates it.

“Mendicity becomes worse during Christmas season because during the holidays rural populations are transferred to large cities by networks that use boys, girls, women and seniors to obtain money through mendicity”, said Soliz.

The campaign has 35 active locations nationwide where donations are received and then are distributed without putting at risk vulnerable groups.

Cecilia Vaca, Coordinating Minister of Social Development, said that using boys, girls and adolescents for mendicity purposes is punishable under the Code of Children and Adolescents, with the loss of custody of the minors.

Likewise, she reported that the campaign has helped rescue entire families from mendicity and child labor. She also noted that through public policies Ecuador eradicated work in landfills, flower plantations, banana producing farms and slaughterhouses.

Both authorities believe that this reduction is visible on the streets, although they agree that there are still lots to do in the country in terms of reduction of mendicity, child labor and eradication of poverty. Read Article


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