Bukavu is a port city in the province of South Kivu on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has developed into a densely populated city with over one million inhabitants. In recent years, the population has continued to increase as many people have fled the violent ethnic conflicts in both Burundi and Rwanda.
However, Bukavu has also been ravaged by civil war in the past. Because of this, many children were forced to become child soldiers and were left to fend for themselves. These children are exposed to begging, informal employment, crime and commercial sexual exploitation to survive.
Since 1989, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bukavu.
Clean drinking water is hard to come by for people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 33 million people living in rural areas have no access to clean drinking water. In Bukavu, the arrival of displaced people in host communities with little access to drinking water increases pressure on available resources. A lack of clean water leads to diarrhea and cholera. Women and girls spend most of their time fetching water instead of going to school.
Until the region is sustainably developed and stabilised, the need to find solutions for vulnerable children and their families will remain.
As the city of Bukavu lies on the border with Rwanda, it remains a strategic location for the armed forces. The province of South Kivu is also important because of its significant deposits of raw materials, which are illegally exported. The country's current poverty and instability is rooted in decades of violence, mismanagement and corruption. Thousands of families have been displaced and are struggling to escape poverty. According to the World Bank, poverty in the country is so severe that about half of the children grow up malnourished and most have no access to education. When armed militias attacked more than 60 schools in 2020, 45,000 children were put in acute danger.