With around 14 million inhabitants, Kolkata is one of the largest cities in the country. After Indian independence in 1947, the city suffered from economic decline and political unrest and was nicknamed "the dying city". Now, thanks mainly to the IT services sector, it has recovered and is considered the cultural capital of India.
Kolkata is a city of stark contrasts, with British flair and a vibrant cultural scene on the one hand, and great poverty and population growth on the other.
Since 1977, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kolkata.
Kolkata is severely affected by pollution. Due to population growth and an increase of economic activities, not only has the waste in the city increased, but also the water and air pollution. An estimated 50,000 people have been victims of premature death due to pollution.
In addition, groundwater, the main source of drinking water, is declining due to population growth and is polluted by industrial sewage treatment. Children are particularly vulnerable to air, waste and water pollution, as they have a negative impact on their health and living conditions.
Kolkata is growing rapidly. This is especially evident in the infrastructure, which can hardly keep up with the city’s growth. After Bangladesh's independence, the city opened its doors to millions of refugees from Bangladesh. As the city now has more than fourteen million inhabitants, many people who move to Kolkata in search of a better life and job opportunities end up in one of the slums on the outskirts of the city.
These slums lack affordable housing, proper sanitation and clean drinking water. An estimated 1.5 million people in the city live in slums. Children are the most affected by the poverty prevailing in these slums and have no access to medical care and education.