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The study investigated locations and patterns of street begging in Enugu metropolis. One hundred and eight five beggars were purposively selected from twenty 20 begging locations across Enugu metropolis. Data were collected with the aid of an in-depth interview schedule as well as personal observations. Variables of interest were socio demographic characteristics of the beggars, usual locations for begging, styles of begging, choice of clients, and patterns of begging. Percentages and table summaries were used to analyse the data collected while the chi square test statistic was used to test the hypotheses. Findings show that begging was not confined to a particular age group although begging in the metropolis was more common among the elderly population (60%). There were more males beggars (59.5 %) than females (40.5%). Begging was found to be more common among married persons (75.7%) and persons without formal education (83.8%). Destitution and physical handicap were factors in begging but able bodied men and women were also found to pretend to be ill to indulge in begging (54.1% ).The daily income of street beggars in Enugu metropolis range from ₦500 to ₦1000 (60.3% ), with females earning more than the males. Location was significant in the nature of begging. Group beggars prefer market places (51.9%), while those that beg alone prefer worship centres (7%), physically challenged beggars that are led by other persons prefer traffic intersections (traffic light) (5.4%). The beggars were mostly Igbo’s (70.2%), Hausas (27.3%), Yoruba’s (0.8%) and nationals of Niger Republic (1.7%). Risks faced by street beggars include sexual exploitation (61.6%) and kidnapping of both sexes (16.2%) and physical assault of box sexes (10.8%). Factor that predisposes street beggars to begging is poverty (58.4%). It was revealed that Christians were more in street begging in Enugu metropolis (89.2%) and Islam (9.2%). In self worth females feel ashamed (71.2%), while don’t feel ashamed by male (61.2%), vocational training/trade as need of street beggars (62.2%) and begging with terminal ill persons (20%).
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Street begging is increasingly noticeable in many metropolises in Nigeria. Although the problem of street begging is an age long worldwide social problem, it is more pronounced in the less developed countries LDC’s (Broun, 2010, Namwata, Mgabo and Dimoso, 2012, Jelili, 2013). The presence of beggars (Clapper, 2012) noted is indicative of larger social ills which can cause others to avoid beggar-inhabited areas.
In many Northern States in Nigeria, street begging is “Institutionalized” proponents justify the practice that begging has its roots from the time of the migration of prophets from Mecca to Medina (Khalid, 1995). This notion explains the practice where Islamic scholars travel with a group of children from villages to towns in search of knowledge. As noted by Ammani (2010) the children have to feed themselves, cloth and find little pocket money through begging. In whatever form begging is often associated with poverty (Adedibu, 1989; Horne and Cooke, 2001). Little wonder that begging is common in many Northern States in Nigeria with its characteristic of high poverty levels (Jigawa 95%, Bauchi 90%, Kebbi 90%, Zamfara 80%, and Adamawa 75% NBS 2012). Phelan, Bruce, Moore and Estueve (1997), and Osiki (1999), also attached beggary to conditions that have sociological connotations like poverty, under-educational, underprivileged and homelessness. According to Khalid (1995), begging as an occupation, a permanent means of livelihood involving large number of people, men and women able and disabled, seem to be a phenomenon peculiar to northern Nigeria. Street beggars are highly visible in public places, commercial centres, residential neighbourhood (Osagbemi, 2001), and worse still on campuses and inside buses (Jelili, 2006). Today, however has witnessed increasing spread of begging in areas outside the traditional areas associated with begging in Nigeria. In Enugu for instance beggars are increasingly visible in the town in spite of the relatively lower levels of poverty (60.0% NBS, 2012) and unemployment (25.2 %) compared to some Northern States in Nigeria (Bauchi 41.4%, Niger 39.5%, Gombe 38.7 and Nasarawa 36.5%) as against national rate of 23.9 in 2011 (NBS 2012). John (2006), Akua and Priscilla (2010), contend that begging has a cultural, religious and political dimension. As John (2006), puts it, street begging is regarded as a traditional way of life in India and that Shiva, the Hindu god is believed to have run his household by panhandling. Aside from this group Ammani (2010) identifies yet a distinct set of professional beggars “Mabarates” who he notes have contributed immensely to the widespread of begging in Nigeria. The polygamous nature of families in the Northern Nigeria has contributed to the high number of “Almajiri” because of the denial of parental care, abandoned to the hands of Imams and they form the majority of the beggar’s population (Onoyase, 2013). A 2013 survey indicated that the population of beggars in Nigeria stood at 12.4 million. The North West zone hosts 5.1 million, the North East zone 3.5 million, North central zone 1.6 million, South west zone 7,600, South-South and South East zones has 9,228 and 8,200 respectively.
The identified three categories of child beggars in urban areas are thus; those who lead disabled or sick parents or relatives, those who beg entirely on their own and those who act as front for parents, especially mothers who are usually hidden from public view but supervise them from distance. In their own views, Horn and Cooke (2001), regarded begging as an income supplement necessary for the survival at some levels related to addictive behaviours or the need for food, accommodation, health and so on. Wolf cited in Gloria and Samuel (2012), reports that people who beg, do so in order to meet subsistence needs and adequate nutritional needs as their major reasons for begging for alms.
Convincingly, the incidence of street begging is function of many demographic dimensions. As such, among other factors, demographic factors like ethnic, background, gender, marital status, religion, education level and body physique play a basic role in composing and patterning the street beggars’ informal social relationships and in determining the choice of friends (Demewozu, 2005). As a result of the threat of widespread marginalization and exclusion, the street beggars struggle to maintain or establish a viable social interaction among them. The modes of social interaction in the form of interpersonal relations enable the beggars to amend their loss of social articulation (Demewozu, 2005). For instance, Adugna (2006) argues that young street beggars are more engaged in begging than the older ones. They have better chance to get sympathy because their needs are emotional which provokes immediate sympathy than the older ones. Hetch, cited by Adugna (2006), rightly stated that age and success at street begging are unsurprisingly inversely related. There is high competition among street beggars to occupy better location which often, are accompanied by fight or quarrel.
The continued relevance of street begging as both a political and a public policy problem is evidenced by extensive media coverage of the issue in recent years, together with governmental consideration of the regulation and governance of begging (Lynch, 2005, CRISIS, 2003, Kamala, Lusinde, Milinga, Mwaitula, Gonza, Juma and Khamis 2002, Maganga, 2008, Petro and Kombe, 2010). It is unfortunate, however that despite the efforts of scholars, governments, media and national and international organizations, the menace of street begging continues unabated in Nigerian cities.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Street begging cuts across all ages and groups children, elderly, disabled, males, females. Some operate alone, while others are in groups. They wait for patronage in public spaces as shopping areas, banks, public offices, churches, mosques, busy streets, among others (Adugna, 2006). Although the practice is an age long problem, its institutionalization and spread among areas not usually known for open begging is a problem. Beggars use posters and envelop with pictures of terminally ill people and even move about with the sick persons to solicit for money. Self-acclaimed healers of mental patients often use them to beg for money from members of the public. In Nigeria, some government authorities’ efforts at tackling the problem include sending street beggars back to their homes, building of rehabilitation centres and forcing beggars into the home among other measures.
The increasing population of beggars in Nigerian cities constitutes an eyesore or environmental nuisance and health hazards, particularly those carrying infectious and contagious diseases (Egeonu, 1988). Begging has serious implication for the city and national economy (Jelili, 2006). It leads not only to social relegation of the city but also to that of beggars as well as stigmatization of the class of people and their relatives. Deviant behaviours such as theft, thuggery (violent and criminal behaviours), vandalism of public properties and utilities built with nation’s resources are listed as some of the vices associated with street begging (National Council for the Welfare of Destitute NCFWD, 2001), (Adedibu and Jelili, 2001; Tambawal, 2010; Adedibu cited by Ogunkan and Fawole, 2009). Street beggars portray a bad image to outsiders or strangers, criminals hid under the guise of street beggars to perpetuate their evil deeds. Their activities are not restricted to the northern cities of Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina or Bauchi; they are also seen in the southern and traditionally non Hausa-Muslim cities of Lagos, Ibadan, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Aba and Calabar (Adewuyi, 2007). The polygamous nature of families in the Northern Nigeria has contributed to the high number of “Almajiri” because of the denial of parental care, but polygamy is not synonymous with the Igbo’s therefore begging should not be relatively high because of family setting but it is gradually gaining ground in Enugu metropolis.
The menace of street begging is a potential threat to our very societal fabric is obvious. This in part explains efforts of the government in curbing the menace of street begging. It is no sooner that some of the state governments in the federation evacuated the beggars from the city than they re-appear (Ojo, 2005). While the current exercise of Lagos state government in evacuating beggars from the mega-city is considered fruitful by many, it is believed here that the approach is not very effective. This is evident because the forceful evacuation only ‘shifts’ or ‘re-distribute’ the activity among Nigerian cities, but never addresses the reasons why they take to begging and most importantly, what to be done to get them leave the street. More so, most of the forcefully evacuated beggars tend to resurface there when the policy is relaxed a bit. Large scale begging especially among Igbo people is seen as a taboo (Jelili, 2009). In recent times however, begging is also gaining ground in many cities in South East Nigeria. Anywhere you go in Enugu Metropolis for instance you find street beggars either young or old begging for alms. Some are in the wheelchairs, blind and been led by someone, while some are with new born twins or triplets soliciting for alms from passer-by and commuters. The increasing population of street beggars in Enugu Metropolis is causing environmental, social and economic discomfort to other law abiding citizens. Besides for the Igbo people who were hitherto not used to institutionalized and professionalised begging to increasingly now indulge in the practice is a serious social misnomer deserving the concern of all.
The problem of increasing incidence of street begging in Enugu metropolis with the attendant social, environmental and recent security dimension required to be investigated. Therefore, it is at this backdrop that this study investigated the location and patterns of street begging in Enugu metropolis and what has fuelled and sustained the rise on the number of street beggars in the area of study.
1.3: The main objective of the study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the location, nature and patterns of street begging in Enugu metropolis Nigeria.
1.3.1: The specific objectives of the study are to:
1. Ascertain the socio economic characteristics of street beggars in Enugu Metropolis.
2. Determine the patterns and nature of begging based on location in Enugu Metropolis.
3. Determine the predisposing factors to begging in Enugu Metropolis.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were raised to guide the conduct of the study:
1. Is begging related to the socio economic status of the persons in Enugu Metropolis?
2. Does location have any relationship with the forms and nature of street begging in Enugu metropolis?
3. What predisposes people into street begging in Enugu Metropolis?
H₁: There is significant relationship between begging and the socio economic status of street beggars.
H₂: location has a significant relationship among beggars and their reasons for street begging in Enugu metropolis.
H₃: There is significant relationship between poverty and street begging in Enugu metropolis.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Organised/institutional begging is a recent phenomenon in Enugu metropolis, therefore findings from the study will provide useful insight that can be used by relevant rehabilitation agencies and NGO’s that are interested in rehabilitation/reintegration of these group of persons into the society. This will also help us understand why the previous rehabilitation efforts of governments failed and enable us to proffer a more robust rehabilitation packages and programmes. It will serve as a literature for other interested scholars/researchers to conduct further investigation on the phenomenon in detail in Nigeria and other geopolitical zones/states in particular. It will also benefit development partners/stakeholders on how to prevent, intervene and promote psychological and social wellbeing of the street beggars in particular, the society and community in general through posing recommendations to all concerned agencies since street beggars are the reflection of our society. Hence we will have a healthy and wealthy society which will help change the image of our country and realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study was carried out in the dry season and not extended all through the year. It was also done in the field and was not followed through the residence of the street beggars.
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