The Gambia

SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in the Gambia)

The Gambia is a small country in western Africa. It borders the Atlantic Ocean but is otherwise surrounded by its neighbouring country Senegal. With a population of around 2.4 million, it is one of the smallest, yet most densely populated countries in Africa. More than half of the population lives in cities and surrounding regions. The economy is dominated by agriculture.

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it in The Gambia since 1982.

Children are at risk

The Gambia has a very large youth population. Around 43% are under the age of 14. However, the country is still shaped by traditional views and beliefs, which are sometimes in sharp contrast to the ideals of child rights and child protection. Children often face harmful traditional practices, early marriage and pregnancy, sexual abuse and exploitation, child trafficking and physical or psychological abuse. These topics are often not openly talked about which means that many children continue to suffer in silence.
Of the population lives in poverty

Widespread poverty

In recent years, the level of poverty in The Gambia has remained unchanged or even worsened. Reasons for that are crises like the 2015 Ebola outbreak or climate change related extreme weather occurrences such as drought and floods. 48% of the population lives in poverty. These high levels of poverty mean inadequate access to basic health and educational services and hinder children from reaching their full potential.

Of Gambian children experience physical punishment

Violence against children

Many people in The Gambia are still holding on to traditional beliefs. Many believe that corporal punishment against children is acceptable. As a result 89% of children experience physical violence. Physical discipline at home is the most common form of violence against children. This can be especially harmful at a young age, because there is an increased risk for physical injuries and emotional harm. Children are unable to understand the motivation behind the act or adopt coping strategies.

Of children in the Gambia suffer from acute malnutrition


Food insecurity has risen over the past five years due to weak food production systems and an increase in droughts and flooding. Around 10% of children suffer from acute malnutrition while around 23% suffer from impaired growth and development and are too small for their age. The Gambia produces only 50% of the food it needs and heavily depends on food imports.

Together we can make a difference for children in The Gambia

Can stay together
Adults and children
Are supported in the community
Learn at our kindergartens and schools
Medical treatments
Were possible
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
“I want to study at the University of The Gambia. It is my wish to become a medical doctor, so that I can change my family’s situation when I grow up, and make my father proud,” said Mildred. Mildred’s father always encourages her, and today her hard work is paying off (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in the Gambia).

Let’s keep on protecting children and young people!

Many children have been able to find a safe and secure home. With your help, we can continue to change their lives