The Socio –Economic livelihood of Migrant Shoe Shiners: The Case of Migrant Shoe Shiners in Sabean Quarter of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

Shambel Tufa Telila


The purpose of this paper is to investigate “The Socio –Economic livelihood of Migrant Shoe Shiners: The Case of Migrant Shoe Shiners in Sabean Quarter of Dire Dawa”. The researcher used Qualitative research approaches and primary data collection methods that largely include observations, interviews are the principal methods to understand the etic lives of shoe shiners. This involved the daily practice of the shoe shining children to understand their social and economic context of lives and their interpersonal relations in their livelihood perspectives, experiences and actions. Moreover, researcher has attempted to assess their social networks and economic relationships which were constructed by the children themselves. In fact, the whole process of generating the research data was primarily made on the basis of the children’s own perspectives and understanding of their work and livelihood conditions. Poor rural conditions of their parents made them to migrate to provide food and basic survival needs to their children. Therefore, this study make known that the livelihoods of the shoe shiners are dynamic and there is an intense solidarity among shoe-shinning children in Dire Dawa. Most of them maintain very close social ties and networks with peer groups, relatives, customers, and with other street actors. The most predominant social tie and network are peer group socialization which is mainly constructed on the basis of identical work and geographical origin. Those who came from the same geographical origin and rural village form a unified functional group and develop high sense of belongingness. They live and work together for getting the benefits of communal life style. Children conceived that living together is the sole livelihood strategy which enables to reduce urban living cost and perhaps makes life easier and enjoyable. They use their social networks and bonds to overcome some of the challenges they face such as reducing their meals and sharing apartments with colleagues as well as relying on each other’s help in times of scarcity. Moreover, they create a new sense of ‘family-hood’ with their social groups and exercise a sense of enthusiastic love and care to each other. At times they suffer, they usually share material and financial benefits from each other. For instance, if a child lacks income to get food, friends will invite and or lend some money. If somebody is sick or injured they would take him to the clinic or give treatment at home. Shoe-shinning children one among the urban poor in Addis city, have been exposed to various vulnerable living conditions. Most of them lack adequate livelihood income and basic necessities which in turn affected their spatial well being and health conditions as well.

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