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

Dassa-Zoumé is a city with just over 100,000 inhabitants. It is located in central Benin on the main travel route between the north and south. Surrounded by picturesque hills and forests, the city draws a number of tourists while also being a significant destination for Catholic pilgrims. These factors have helped the city to become a place of financial opportunity, which in turn has led to a rapidly growing population rate. These developments have however, put existing infrastructure under great strain - sanitation, access to medical treatment and schooling are among the most pressing issues. Furthermore, child labour is a severe challenge here.

Since 2005, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families, and advocating for their rights in Dassa-Zoumé.

3 in 4
Households do not have access to sanitation

Rapid urbanization causes poverty

Due to tourism and its location on a main travel route, the population of Dassa-Zoumé has been growing rapidly over the past years, as many people move here in hope of a better life. However, this is putting increased pressure on the city’s infrastructure. The majority of families end up living in informal settlements, without access to proper housing, sanitation or safe drinking water. Only 1 in 4 urban households has access to improved sanitation facilities, such as toilets. This creates great risks, especially for children growing up here. Unfortunately, waterborne diseases are common. Furthermore, medical treatment and education are not widely available in these areas of Dassa-Zoumé.

Beninese children are exploited for labour

Children are at risk of trafficking

The tradition of ‘vidomegon’, whereby children from poor families are placed in richer families, remains widespread. Traditionally, the children could thus gain access to education that would otherwise have been inaccessible. However, in contemporary Benin, these children often live a slave-like existence full of domestic chores and many suffer abuse of all kinds. It is estimated that around 100,000 children are facing this reality. The children mainly come from rural areas, and the vast majority of them are girls, because sons are seen as a bigger asset for the parents, whereas daughters will become part of their husbands’ families. Sometimes, financial gain can be a motive behind ‘vidomegon’ and some children are sold as domestic servants or labourers. on

Your support makes a difference for children in Dassa-Zoumé

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.
Can stay together
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Children in our care are having fun and exercising in the garden (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in Benin).

How your support helps in Dassa-Zoumé

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 training so that parents can get the skills they need to get a job or start their own businesses. Likewise, we ensure that children can get medical help and go to 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.