The city of Dapaong lies in the north of Togo, near the border with Burkina Faso and Ghana. Most of its over 55,000 inhabitants live off farming and rearing animals, mainly for subsistence, but coffee, cocoa and cotton are also produced for export. The region has an important artisan culture, craft products are sold abroad and to visiting tourists.
The Savanes province is one of the poorest in the country, and this has prompted some, especially young men, to move to other parts of Togo or abroad in search of work.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dapaong.
Although Togo’s child mortality rate has fallen since the 1990s, many children still die in early life. The majority of the population is extremely poor and with little access to healthcare, children in Togo often die of preventable diseases. Dietary deficiencies are a major cause of death for children, as families struggle to provide daily nutritious meals.
Moreover, girls under 18 who have grown up in poverty, especially those who have received little schooling, are at higher risk of being forced into arranged marriages to improve their family's financial situation. Although the government has taken measures to protect children, many of their basic rights remain unfulfilled in Togo.
High levels of poverty and HIV/AIDS in Togo means that thousands of children grow up without any family support. In 2020 alone, a reported 83,000 children lost parental care due to HIV-related illnesses. In addition, many more have had to grow up without support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of health facilities is particularly worrying since there are many children and pregnant women who are in need of antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV infections. Throughout the country there are thousands more who find themselves at risk of losing parental care due to a harsh socioeconomic environment. Vulnerable children without parental care are in need of alternative arrangements for them to grow up in.