Canelones is both a department and city situated in the south of Uruguay. It is home to 530,000 residents. It borders the country’s capital, Montevideo. Many people live in Canelones and commute to Montevideo for work.
The city has rivers and streams alongside flat lands, providing the best environment for vineyards. Alongside intensive agriculture, many families in Canelones itself live off working in the flour and paper mills.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Canelones.
Canelones’s picturesque landscape was once an attractive region for tourists. However, the volume of tourism has drastically fallen due to social problems rampant in the country as well as the neighbouring economic crisis in Argentina.
With the loss of jobs and the threat of poverty, theft and petty crime are on the rise. Unemployment rates are high, mainly among young people. Reports also highlight how women and children living in rural areas are the most affected. Women have limited access to employment opportunities and children are forced to leave school to find work.
As Canelones borders the country’s capital, Montevideo, there has been an increase in the number of people who move here from rural Uruguay. They are looking for employment and a better life.
However, the infrastructure could not keep up. Shantytowns, also known as “Cantegrils” in Uruguay, began to emerge across the city. These living quarters are made poorly from corrugated tin, scrap wood and cardboard. Access to drinking water and sewage services proves to be a challenge in these informal settlements. With poor sanitation, the shantytowns have turned into hot spots for transmission of diseases. And children living here lack access to schools and health care.