Douala is the capital of Littoral Province and is located on the banks of the Wouri River, 30 km from the southern Atlantic coast of Cameroon. With around 3 million inhabitants, it is the largest city in Cameroon. It is also home to the largest port in Central Africa. Many people move here from rural Cameroon in the hope of finding work. However, many end up getting informal jobs. Many families end up living in slums in very poor conditions, and in many cases the children drop out of school and have to work to contribute to the family income. HIV/AIDS is also a problem here, leaving many children without parental care.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families, and advocating for their rights Douala.
As port city and an economic centre of Cameroon, many people move to Douala from rural areas. They are in search of work and a better life in the city. However, many families end up living in overcrowded slums. Basic infrastructure such as access to safe drinking water or sanitation tend to be very poor. In fact, 4 of 10 households do not have access to sanitation at all.
In many parts of the city, drainage is not available. This also greatly increases the risk of infectious diseases such as malaria and typhoid. These can be particularly dangerous for children. The HIV/AIDS rate is also comparatively high in Douala, which leaves many children without parental care.
It is estimated that almost 75% of the population is employed in the informal sector, which offers little security and very low wages. Families who rely on this kind of income usually have to work very long hours, leaving them little time to take care of their children. In the worst cases, the children have to work and contribute financially to ensure the survival of the family. Although the vast majority of children in Douala attend primary school, many children do not complete primary school. Children from poor households often drop out of school because they have difficulty getting to school or because of additional expenses. Children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS hardly find a way to survive, let alone complete their education.