Abomey-Calavi is a suburb of Benin’s largest city, Cotonou, and has a population of more than 650,000. It is located in the south of the country, at the coast. Economically, the region is by far the most important in the country due to its strategic location as a central place for trade and commerce in western Africa.
However, the number of people living in poverty without access to basic infrastructure remains high, and an increasing number of slums are forming as the population is growing rapidly. Children growing up in these areas are often disadvantaged. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS is a particular problem here.
Since 1987, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families, and advocating for their rights in Abomey-Calavi.
Abomey-Calavi is heavily populated, and migration from the poorer rural areas in the north continues to drive steady population growth. As more and more people move to the city, slums are forming. Only 25 % of the country's urban population has access to improved sanitation. Malnutrition is widespread and is a major obstacle to children's development. In addition, people living in poverty are most affected by waterborne diseases and other infectious diseases that thrive particularly well in the tropical climate. The increasing urbanisation of the region forces newcomers and the poorest to settle in areas that flood easily.
HIV/AIDS poses a serious threat to the well-being of children in Abomey-Calavi and surrounding areas. The number of HIV-positive people is higher than in rural areas. In some cases, children lose their parents to the disease and are left on their own. They have to work to survive and rarely go to school.
Besides HIV/AIDS, other pressing public health concerns include infectious diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria and yellow fever. Thousands of people still die from diseases that could easily be treated. Lack of access to basic sanitation such as toilets and clean drinking water increases the risk of falling ill.