Antofagasta is the largest city in Northern Chile, and the capital of the Antofagasta region. It has a population of 451,000 people.
Antofagasta is well connected. There is a central railway line that leads to the mines, neighbouring countries like Argentina and Bolivia, as well as urbanized regions in the North and South of Chile. The copper mines found in the area are a key contributor to the city’s economy. But children and young people who move here with their families face many risks.
Since 1987, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Antofagasta.
Water pollution in Antofagasta is having a negative impact on the brain development of children.
This is because Antofagasta is one of the world’s top copper mining regions in the world, and poor mining practices have contaminated water sources.
Reports reveal that children who lived near mining waste disposal sites and contaminated water sources suffered. The results of the assessments were compared with children of similar age and socioeconomic statuses from other cities in Chile, and the children from Antofagasta faired five times poorer.
Antofagasta is the most expensive city to live in in Chile, after Santiago. Despite this, the city has seen an increase of people in search of work, mainly in the large copper mining companies. The city’s geographical position also makes it well connected to other areas where they can find work.
The growing informal settlements around Antofagasta have poor infrastructure, with young children living in badly-made houses with no access to clean drinking water or sanitation. Basic services such as healthcare and childcare are far from these settlements, leaving young parents who are seeking work without support for their children.