The multi-ethnic Republic of Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa and has roughly 920,000 inhabitants. The country earns some revenue from its access to the Red Sea, providing a seaport for many landlocked countries nearby.
However, it remains highly dependent on foreign aid and suffers from persistent droughts and food shortages. Hence, thousands of children are malnourished and living in poverty.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Djibouti since 2011.
Djibouti is a very dry country with little rainfall. Water scarcity often destroys the harvests of small farmers and kills much of the livestock, leading to food shortages and malnutrition. Djibouti has one of the world's highest levels of malnutrition for children, particularly among those under the age of five living in rural areas.
According to some estimates, about one third of all children in Djibouti suffer from the effects of malnutrition including stunted growth and lasting cognitive deficits.
An estimated 70% of Djibouti’s population are poor. In recent years, the price of food and other basic commodities such as housing, electricity and water have risen, causing more suffering for families who were already struggling to make a living.
In addition, families face economic pressures, which means that many cannot afford to send their children to school. Very often girls and boys are sent out to work to contribute to the family income.
Around 35% of the population of Djibouti are children under the age of 15.
In spite of some recent improvements, the country has very high infant and maternal mortality rates, as 50 out of 1000 of children die before the age of one.
This is largely related to malnutrition, poor sanitation and limited access to medical facilities.