Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. Thousands of families face food shortages and are unable to cover the most basic needs as their income continues to decline. Madagascan children represent the most vulnerable segment of the population – they are in urgent need of support and protection.
A country affected by natural disasters
Children who cannot live with their families can enjoy their childhood again in SOS families (photo: SOS archives).
The world's fourth biggest island is situated just off the East-African coast. The country is home to over 25 million people, most live in rural areas and in crippling poverty.
The island is regularly hit by natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts and floods. These affect thousands of people, people who are already struggling to feed their families and stay healthy. Just one example, in January 2018 cyclone Ava affected 161,000 and displaced around 15,000.
Although Madagascar is rich in resources such as fertile soil, minerals and oil, the natural disasters and other crises mean that the vast majority of the country’s population remain vulnerable.
Despite natural wealth, Madagascar remains one of the poorest nations in the region
The socioeconomic conditions that the majority of Madagascans face are harsh. Since the early 1970s, the per capita income has fallen noticeably while during the same period the population has nearly doubled. The Madagascan population is among the fastest growing in the world.
Social exclusion and poverty is widespread. According to UNICEF, around 92 per cent of the population lives in poverty. While urban poverty also exists, it is predominantly a rural phenomenon: the rural population lacks access to public infrastructure and services, in particular medical centres and schools. Many Madagascan subsistence farmers barely produce enough to feed their own families.
Many families, especially those living in rural areas, do not have access to clean drinking water or safe sanitation facilities. As a result, they drink polluted water, and this increases their risk of contracting water-borne diseases. This lack of sanitation was partly to blame for the re-emergence of polio in the country in 2015.
Children are vulnerable and in need of protection
Learning with his SOS mother. Nearly 2000 children attend the kindergartens and schools that SOS Children’s Villages runs in Madagascar (photo: SOS archives).
Around 8.8 million children live in poverty in Madagascar.
Around two million children do not get the necessary quantity or kind of food that they need to grow into healthy adults. Children living in rural areas are at a higher risk of malnutrition.
Although the number of children in education has increased, almost 905,000 do not go to school. Furthermore, only one in three completes primary school. Many of these children drop out of school for economic reasons, because they have to work and contribute to the family finances. Almost one in four children between the ages of five and 17 are working, often in exploitative and dangerous conditions, including commercial sexual exploitation.
Women and girls also need support and protection. Around 41 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18, and this often marks the end of their formal education. Maternal mortality - especially among young mothers - and neonatal mortality is high.
SOS Children's Villages in Madagascar
SOS Children’s Villages started working in Madagascar in 1986.
Strengthen families: Since 2002, we have been running SOS Family Strengthening Programmes that aim to enable children who are at risk of losing care and protection of their family to grow up in a caring family environment.
Care for children who cannot live with their families: Children who can no longer live with their families find a new home in SOS families. They grow up with their brothers and sisters and are cared for by SOS parents.
Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin, so that they can stay in touch. In some cases, the children can return to live with their families – when this happens we support them during the period of change and adjustment.
Education: Nearly 2000 children across the country attend the kindergartens and schools run by SOS Children’s Villages in Madagascar.
Support for young people: SOS Children’s Villages supports young people until they are able to live independently. We care for them while they finish their education or training, and look for their first job.
Medical care: The medical centres work to prevent and treat diseases. We provide medical-check-ups and vaccinations and also assist pregnant women and young babies.
(available in French)