Antsirabe is located in the central highlands of Madagascar and has a population of almost 240,000.
The city has experienced relatively steady economic growth over the years, mainly due to its textile industry. However, as many people move to the city in hope of finding a job, poor living standards are a challenge in Antsirabe. Often, people do no find employment and families end up living without basic infrastructure in precarious conditions on the outskirts of the city.
Since 2003, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Antsirabe.
Rural exodus in the areas surrounding Antsirabe has resulted in the city’s considerable growth over recent years. While it has a relatively stable economy, the increase in the number of people has put pressure on jobs and many remain unemployed. Furthermore, this puts further strain on basic infrastructure, and many people that move here in hope of a better life end up living in very poor conditions in the outskirts of the city. Lack of proper housing, sanitation and clean drinking water are the reality for many families. In fact, roughly 90% of Madagascar’s inhabitants do not use basic sanitation facilities such as toilets. Many of these live in the outskirts of Antsirabe and these living conditions can have a long-lasting impact on children.
Urban poverty is a challenge for many people in Antsirabe. Unemployment is high and many people struggle to make a living. Unable to afford proper housing or food to put on the table, it is not uncommon that everyone in the family has to contribute to household income in one way or another. This means that often, children have to work instead of going to school.
In fact, almost 5 in 10 of the poorest children under 14 aren’t in school. This number is four times higher than for children who don’t live in poverty. This has long-term effects for children as it becomes near impossible to break the vicious cycle of poverty.