Kinshasa is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a rapidly growing population of 15 million. It is located on the western border along the Congo River. Kinshasa is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa – however, urban development struggles to keep up. Inhabitants live with frequent violence, heavy pollution and poor health care. While Kinshasa is a major exporter of natural resources such as copper, the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains dependent on volatile global commodity markets. The tense political climate continues to discourage investment and impedes economic growth.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families, and advocating for their rights in Kinshasa.
Due to a rapidly growing population that increasingly moves to urban centres, cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen intense growth. Kinshasa's growth is astonishing: between 2000 and 2020, an average of 410,000 people moved to the city each year. Most of the inhabitants are young and live in poverty. Uncontrollable urbanization means that they often fall into the ‘poverty trap’. Gang is also a serious problem as the urban security management lags behind. To reduce the number of children and young people left to fend for themselves, vulnerable families need support and assistance to access health services and acquire vocational skills and education.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, epidemic outbreaks, like HIV/AIDS, are a major threat, especially for women and children. The conflict-ridden past decades have made it difficult to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. As large numbers of the population are constantly displaced, obtaining adequate health care can be difficult for many families. Many children have themselves become affected by the virus. A reported number of 21,700 children (aged 0-14 years) are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART). Children whose parents suffer from HIV/AIDS or other illnesses account for another large group of children at risk of losing parental care since medical treatment is not widely available.