Gwagwalada is located west of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Lagos is still the commercial centre of Nigeria, but the capital was moved to Abuja in 1991 to provide a more central seat of government. Abuja is a planned, purpose-built city and currently has a population of about 1.2 million.
While Abuja is known as one of the most prosperous cities in Africa, there are people living in poverty in the outskirts and rural areas surrounding the city. The standard of living of families is often very low. Many children do not get enough to eat and can’t go to school.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Gwagwalada.
Overall, Abuja is a relatively prosperous city. However, there is visible income inequality. While the city centre is well planned, many people who moved to Abuja in the hope of a better life have settled in the outskirts, where poverty and unemployment remain a challenge.
Housing conditions and basic sanitation are very poor. Very few families have their own toilet and only 27% of people in the country have access to clean drinking water.
Children are particularly at risk of falling ill under these conditions, and child mortality due to diarrheal diseases is still high.
Poverty in Nigeria has increased and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Children are often expected to contribute to the household income and even very young children begging on the streets are a common sight in Abuja. These children do not go to school, let alone complete their education. Although school enrolment rates have greatly improved in the country, over 10 million children under the age of 14 are not in school and literacy rates remain low.
Young people lack future prospects and often struggle to escape the cycle of poverty. They are also vulnerable to a life of crime or violence.