Chennai, previously called Madras, is a city located in the Tamil Nadu state in South East India.
With a population of around 10 million, it is the sixth biggest city in India. It is one of the fastest growing Indian cities, thanks to the automobile, the health and the finance sectors.
However, despite the city flourishing, around 40% of the population lives in poverty, and many live in slums at the border of the city. Chennai is also prone to natural disasters, and all these issues have a negative impact on vulnerable children.
Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Chennai.
The state of Tamil Nadu, where Chennai is located, was devastated by the tsunami of 2004, and again by floods in 2015 and 2021. They destroyed lives, families, and houses.
On average, three tropical cyclones make landfall in India each year, and the cases of natural disasters are only increasing, due to climate change. Children are most vulnerable to these natural disasters, losing their homes and families.
In addition, the city of Chennai is the second biggest polluter of plastic in India – plastic blocks drains and sewers, so that the flood water is trapped in the streets with nowhere to go.
Chennai is one of the fastest-growing cities in India, but the infrastructure has been unable to keep up with this development. There is a lack of affordable housing, adequate sanitation and safe drinking water.
Often people who move to Chennai in search of a better life and job opportunities, end up in slums on the border of the city. It is the fourth city in India with the biggest population living in slums.
An estimated 40% of people in the city live in slums. Children are most vulnerable to the poverty in these slums, and to the lack of access to safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation.