SOS Children’s Villages supports individual children, young people and families so that they can thrive (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in Senegal).

Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal, located in the westernmost tip of the country. Around 3 million people live in this city, which is a leading industrial and service centre in Africa. Dakar however, is also characterized by uncontrolled growth that lacks urban planning, and the ubiquitous contrast of wealth and poverty. Children in the city are at risk of being forced to work, beg on the streets or marry early.

Since 1987, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dakar.

Of girls in Dakar are forced into early marriage

Children are forced into marriage

In Senegal, girls are still victim of child marriages. Indeed, 29% of women are married before they turn 18. Child marriage is a violation of the universal declaration of human rights, and the emotional damage a child suffers from a forced union is profound. There is also an increased risk of child pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence. Poverty is also a major cause. In the region of Dakar specifically, around 20% of all women were married before age 18. The target to end child marriage by 2030 will require a major push from the government.

Of children are involved in child labour

Begging on the streets of Dakar

22% of children are involved in child labour in Senegal. Thousands of children can be seen begging on the streets of the Dakar metropolitan area each and every day, some as young as two years of age. The majority of them are boys, and most of them are from families who have migrated from rural areas or neighbouring countries. But many of these boys no longer live with their families: it is common for parents to place their sons in the care of a Koranic teacher. However, far from the eyes of their family of origin, these boys are at risk of being exploited.

Your support makes a difference for children in Dakar

SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities to offer a wide range of support that is adapted to the local context. We always work in the best interest of the children, young people and families.
Adults and children
Are supported in the community
Learn at our kindergartens and schools
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Brothers enjoying a snack in their spare time. Siblings grow up together and often form bonds that last a lifetime (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in Senegal).

How your support helps in Dakar

Strengthening vulnerable families and communities
When parents face hardships, they can sometimes struggle to give children the care they need. SOS Children’s Villages works with local partners and communities. Each family needs different support so that they can stay together. This support can include workshops on parenting and children’s rights. We also run trainings so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to school.
Providing quality education
SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children and young people have access to high-quality education. We help them learn and develop in a safe and supportive environment. We train teachers on children’s rights and child-centered learning, so that each child can get the most out of their education. Young children spend time playing and learning at kindergarten. This prepares them for primary school.
Caring for children who cannot live with their families
Some children cannot stay with their families, even with additional support. When this happens, they can find a new home in SOS Children’s Villages. Here the children can build safe and lasting relationships. All the children in our care have access to education and healthcare. Wherever possible, we work closely with the children’s family of origin. If children can return to live with their families, we help them adapt to this change.
Supporting young people to become independent
To help young people become confident and independent, our local team works closely with each young person to develop a plan for their future. We support young people and also help them prepare for the labour market and increase their employment prospects. For example, young people can attend workshops and trainings run by SOS Children’s Villages. They also improve their skills through taking part in different projects with local mentors and businesses.