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Assessment that can be used in changing the orientation of Youths towards Street Hawking in the Buea Municipality

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In most parts of the world, youths constitute the largest visible group of the unemployed; a clear illustration of their disadvantaged position in the labour market. Unemployment rate in the developing countries is generally high and this is the main reason why many people start their working lives in the informal sector. Globally, three out of four employed youths are in informal employment, compared to three in five for adults. This ratio is as high as 19 out of 20 for young women and men in developing countries (ILO, 2017). In this study, a youth is any person between the ages of 15 and 24 years as defined by United Nations (UN), United Nation Children’s International Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO) and World Bank, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States. (UN, 2014).In a bid to escape poverty, many youths migrate to cities to look for better opportunities. Such movement from rural to urban area is inevitable and even desirable as a way to improve their quality of lives, though with wide socio-economic implications (Alarima, 2019).

According to the World Bank, the “informal sector” is a force in developing states comprising between 25 percent and 40 percent of annual economic production in Africa and Asia (Megevand 2013). Developing countries are mainly characterized by large informal sectors and Cameroon is no exception. Informal economies make important contributions to the economic and social life of any city because it offers opportunities for people who are unemployed including those who lack skills for formal employment and school drop-outs to make a living. Such informal sectors continue to grow because planned economic development has not created enough jobs to reduce unemployment; about 90 percent of Cameroon’s labour force is based even if partly in the informal sector and almost three quarters of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are employed in this sector (Davis, 2008).

In Buea, vast majority of the youths are immigrants from the countryside, and street trading for them represents a desperate means of survival when the hopes of ready employment have been thwarted. Families who cannot afford the high cost of house rent are forced to live in urban slums which expose them to various health and environmental hazards. These low-income parents often engage their children in street hawking and petty trading to supplement aggregate family income (Basorun, 2021). The need to continually provide for the family in the midst of unfriendly conditions has led youths and children to engage in street hawking activities (Magaji, 2020).  The contribution of street hawking to economic growth and development cannot be denied. Unfortunately, the hazards attached to it outweigh its beneficial socio-economic implications. Such hazards like motor accident, rape, kidnapping, extortion, sexual molestation, robbery and anti-social behaviors are too extreme to ignore (Basorun, 2011; Nduka & Duru, 2014). Different socio-economic factors and implications are cardinal to street hawking. Studies have revealed some of these socio-demographic factors to be; poverty, lack of formal employment in the city and, regional socio-economic differences (Basorun, 2021). The implications range from health, sexual, academic performance and attainment, behavioral to physical hazard (Nduka & Duru, 2014). Street hawking, no doubt, exposes people to risk especially at the city center which is the business hub associated with heavy traffic. As espoused by Amoo et al. (2012) ; Sam, Akansor and Agyemang (2019), street hawkers sustain an intense risk of physical injuries as they carry their goods on head or hands and run after moving vehicles in an attempt to ensure they complete their daily sales. Undoubtedly, unemployment, poverty, inflation, poor school performance, unstable families, peer group influence, large family size and parental care have been ascribed to the incidence of street hawking in Cameroon (Fawole, 2003). hazards posed by street hawking in Buea, include nature and harassment by government officials (Basorun 2021). All these problems have attracted attention for actions that will ameliorate the lives of the youths for a better future in Buea, being a highly urbanized city in Cameroon.

The menace of street hawking in Cameroon is socially, economically, politically and spatially oriented. It accounted for about one third of the 50 million labour forces out of 123.9 million people in 1999 (Adeyinka, 2006). The failure of the formal sector to manage the demand for jobs, goods and services presents the informal economy as the highest employer of urban poor  (Basorun 2021). Various efforts have been made by the three tiers of government and non-governmental agencies to stem the tide of street hawking in Cameroon, through capacity building, establishment of free education foundation for the poor, “A hawker can be defined as a person who offers goods for sale to the public without having a permanent built-up structure from which to sell (Asare 2010), street hawking exposes the individual to the risk of potential accidents, loss of lives, abuse, reproductive health problems, easy prey to crime and prostitution as well as a number of other social problems. In addition, street hawkers retard national growth because they cannot be taxed to provide revenue for the government, impede traffic, increase travel time and fuel costs thus increasing transportation costs and the average costs of doing business (Davis, 2008). In addition, hawkers operate in unsafe public spaces where they have to maneuver between cars and motors to make their living at the risk of losing their lives and at the mercy of the weather, crime amongst other factors.


According to Palmer (2007), every year in Cameroon, large amounts of youth enter into the informal sector with little or no skills training since the transition rate between the junior high school and the senior high school is 30%. It has become a normal occurrence to see large amounts of the youth on our streets, engaging in hawking, which is not ideal for young people in any nation. They should be engaged in properly regulated jobs which add value to nation building and development hence the establishment of some intervention programs by the government to aid in this objective a number of intervention programs have been designed for these hawkers over the years the pedestrian market. However, hawkers are still seen on the streets. The purpose of this study was to investigate the orientation of hawkers on the streets and to review the effectiveness of the intervention programs, and to recommend other programmes with the interests of the hawkers in mind to get them off the streets.

This study is aimed at evaluating whether or not the intervention programs had been helpful in dealing with the hawkers, recommending policies to bring the street hawking phenomenon under control and to channel human resources to nation building. Although a lot of discussion has been conducted on street-hawking, little information on empirical analysis into the effectiveness of the programs is available. Such an analysis is invaluable because it will help us understand the problem of street hawking, explain why it persists, evaluate existing strategies to combat it, and suggest better strategies to improve the chances of human capital development in Cameroon.


1.3.1 Main Research Question

What methods can be used to changing the orientation of Youths towards Street Hawking in the Buea Municipality?

1.3.2 Specific Research Questions

  1. What are the reasons for engaging in the act of street Hawking
  2. What are the socio-economic implications of street hawking on their livelihoods; and
  3. What measures can be put in place to minimize the trend of Hawking in the Buea municipality through orientation.
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