Perceived Socio Economic And Religious Causes Of Street Begging In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Niger State)

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Perceived Socio Economic And Religious Causes Of Street Begging In Nigeria (A Case Study Of Niger State)


This study attempts to unveil the cultural, socio- political and socio-economic correlates of begging in cities, particularly of developing countries. With illustrations from Islamic and Christian scriptures, and examples from cities across the world, with a particular emphasis on, Nigeria, the paper establishes the impacts of the different composite factors of religion, culture, polity, and socio-economy on begging. The paper sees poverty and other socioeconomic factors as central issues in addressing the problem of begging in cities. It identifies or rather, generates certain constructs and hypotheses, which may provide a suitable platform for empirical studies on the phenomenon.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Begging in the streets of Nigeria is one of the perennial activities and perhaps occupations of the highly vulnerable, poverty-ridden individuals in the society, particularly in the developing countries. As revealed in the studies of different scholars, begging is not peculiar to developing countries; it is a universal phenomenon (Ado, 1997) and a global urban problem. While a considerable number of cities were identified in the US and Mexico as having a significant level of begging activity (Smith, 2005; Fabrega, 1971), cities in China, especially Shanghai, have been described as homes of different categories of beggars (including the poor, the disabled, the homeless and professional beggars), which are described as “liumin” (floating people) or “youmin” (wandering people) (Hanchao, Lu, 1999). In India, begging is seen as a pride as beggars are seen posing as someone famous and very popular. The situation is not so different in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, where beggars are seen at junctions all over the major cities in the country. In cities of Britain and similar industrialized countries overtime, begging has become highly noticeable (Jordan, 1999). Those of Mexico, as reported by Fabriga (1971), cited in Adedibu (1989) are not left out in this negative scenario. The situation in Nigerian cities as observed everyday is perhaps regrettably worse with different categories of beggars found at motorparks, religious centres, markets, road junctions, venues of ceremonies, among other public places begging for various form of assistance ranging from food to money amongst others (Ojo, 2005).

The geometrically growing incidence and influx of beggars in major cities and towns in Nigeria as well as human carriage, kidnapping, indecent assault and a host of antisocial behaviour has assumed an alarming dimension. For instance, female beggars taking shelter under the bridges, parks and uncompleted buildings and unfortunately depend on serial male partners who exploit them sexually (Wikipedia free Encyclopedia, (2007). Street begging and homelessness are often regarded as anti-social behaviour issues by diverse stakeholder, including the media, politicians, traders, law enforcement officers and agencies, welfare and social service providers amongst others are general public and people who beg (Lynch, 2005), To this end, a survey report indicated that beggars were victims of diverse forms of abuse, neglect and abandonment (GN/UNICEF, 1990). According to Lynch (2005), an average of ten people are likely to beg on a daily basis. Carrous (cited in Qudiz, 2005:46) noted that an estimated 850 million people are hungry while 2 billion suffer from chronic mineral or protein deficiencies. In view of this, it was projected that between now and the year 2030, there will be food-related tensions, with the most vulnerable countries being Near and Middle East, the Maghreb, the Nile Valley, West African and sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria inclusive (Qudiz, 2005). In confirmation, Wolf (2005) reported that people, who beg, do so in order to meet the basic necessities of life; in addition, Qudiz (2005) revealed that 88% of respondents indicated adequate nutritional needs as their major reasons for begging as compared with need for accommodation (53%), alcohol-dependency (41%), health care (29%) and drug dependency (24%). He observed that none of the respondents begged because it was lucrative or easy money; the inference drawn from all these studies and many suggests that poverty is the main factor associated with street begging. All these and many more lend full support to evaluate the causes and consequences of street begging in Nigerian.

1.2 Statement of the General Problem

Street begging in Nigeria cities and town have become a perennial problem that has defied all strategies to eradicate it. The poor implementation of people oriented polices has left Nigerian masses poorer that imagined which has led to the less privileged taking to the street to beg for food and money. the increase in the spate of begging has negatively affected the socio economic development of the country as these beggars as a result of their poor status have become willing tools in perpetuating crime and other social vices thus affecting the security of the country which by extension has scared away potential investors thus making the economy to suffer.

Overtime In Nigeria, street begging has been a perennial social problem that has become a source of concern to her citizens. The presence of beggars on major highways in recent times often violate social, political and economic changes, resulting from heavy migration of families from rural to urban places, where they face profound deprivation (Inyingidimkpa & Wilcox, 2007). These child street beggars mostly between the ages of [3-17] years are a regular feature of most of the northern Nigeria. They regularly move about in groups of 5-20 with plates or bowls in hand soliciting for stipends, food, or anything edible from people or passersby. Some commentators have argued that this societal ill has a cultural/religious dimension to it, while others argued that it has more of the political dimension to it. As those who believe in this particular mantra have argued that the present volatile nature and persistent violence in northern Nigeria can be traced to the activities of these child street beggars. Whichever school of thought one belongs to, it is pertinent to draw the attention of political, traditional/cultural and religious leaders in Nigeria to this untoward social behavior, on the need to put a stop to this practice. It is unfathomable that in this age and time when kids who should be in school or doing something positive with their lives are left to roam about the streets, all in the name of whatever social/cultural/religious or political nuances. According to Lynch (2005), street begging is often regarded as an anti-social behaviour issue. Mortimer (2005) defined street begging as asking for money without an exchange of service in a public place. Wikipedia (2010) defined begging as a practice whereby a person obtains money, food, shelter or other things from people they encounter by request. Olawale (2007) regarded alms begging as the habit of someone (a beggar) soliciting for favour from others (potential donors) for survival and enrichment.

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study

The major aim of the study is to examine the socio economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;

  1. To examine the level of street begging in Nigeria.
  2. To examine the major causes of street begging in Nigeria.
  3. To examine the socio economic impacts of street begging in Nigeria.
  4. To recommend ways of reducing street begging in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the socio economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigera?
  2. What is the level of street begging in Nigeria?
  3. What are the major causes of street begging in Nigeria?
  4. What are the socio economic impacts of street begging in Nigeria?
  5. What are the ways of reducing street begging in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  1. H0: there are no socio economic implications of street begging in Nigeria.
    H1: there are socio economic implications of street begging in Nigeria.
  2. H0: there are no religious and socio economic causes of street begging in Nigeria
    H2: there are no religious and socio economic causes of street begging in Nigeria

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study would be of immense importance to government at all levels, religious leaders and the general public as it would highlight the major causes and recommend ways of reducing street begging in Nigeria. the study would also benefit students, scholars and researchers who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study is restricted to the socio economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigeria using Lapai Niger state as a case study.

Limitation of the Study
Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms


Begging (also panhandling or mendicancy) is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation

Street begging

Begging (also panhandling or mendicancy) is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation.

Socio-economic factor

The socioeconomic factors that determine health include: employment, education, and income. Socioeconomic refers to society related economic factors. These factors relate to and influence one another.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to investigate the socio-economic and religious causes of street begging in Nigeria.

In the preceding chapters, relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges and causes of street begging in Nigeria

5.2 Summary

Apart from the obvious fact which suggests that begging is a social malaise, the sociological investigation into the problem of begging appears to have been jettisoned amongst several authors. This may be responsible for the failures to provide effective solution to the menace. Begging is a social problem and its understanding, explanation, and prediction require a thorough knowledge of the social forces that promote it. Any attempt to confront the problem in isolation of social measure is not likely to yield positive results. This study, therefore, provides a sociological direction for future research in begging.

5.3 Conclusion

It has been unveiled in this study that street begging in cities is a phenomenon with socio-economic, cultural and socio-political dimensions, all indicating the centrality and importance of the concept of poverty, as a significant measure of understanding and addressing the problem of begging in cities. The study has further still, generated a number of constructs, and hypotheses, which may be useful as platforms upon which future research endeavours may emanate. It is hoped that different categories of stakeholders in the study as well as in the implementation of policies aimed at addressing street begging and related matters would find the study useful in their quest to understand and address the phenomenon.

5.4 Recommendations

Haven completed the study, the following recommendations were made;

Since economic problems and lack of skills for gainful employment were some of the reasons people living with disabilities took to begging, it is recommended, therefore, that self-enhancing and sustainable vocational training programmes should be organized. These programmes should be multi-skilled in nature so as to ensure comprehensive intervention model. The programmes should be designed in such a way that the trainees (disabled beggars) will be able to make a living out of the training they received during their stay in the institution.

In addition, there should be a well structured placement programme after the training. Public and private institutions should be mandated to reserve certain percent of their work force for people living with disabilities trained at the vocational training centre or elsewhere. This will serve as motivation for the disabled beggars and in turn reduce incidence of begging. Education is fundamental to overcoming the problem of street begging in any society. In most developed nations of the world education policy and implementation do not only focus on general education but also on special education. As a result, the vulnerable (people living with disabilities) have a good quality of life (Edewor, Abimbola, and Adekeye, 2008).

Although, in Nigeria, reasonable policy on special education is in place, commitment to its implementation is missing. Therefore, it is recommended that government and other stakeholders should pursue vigorously implementation of policies and programmes aimed at reducing poverty among the disabled beggars. This will go a long way in controlling the phenomenon of street begging by this category of people. The family is regarded as an institution responsible for the wellbeing of its members. Therefore, each family should discharge its social responsibilities effectively, especially to the people living with disabilities instead of abandoning them.

Lastly, it is incumbent on urban planners to properly plan certain locations within the city where disabled beggars are concentrated and other open spaces they may likely occupy. This could be achieved by properly landscaping such areas. This will goa long way in discouraging the convergence of disabled beggars.

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