Maseru is the capital city of Lesotho and is located in the northeast of the country, close to the border with South Africa. It has grown rapidly over recent years: around 330, 000 people live in the city today.
However, rapid urbanization has resulted in unplanned settlements with limited access to sanitation facilities and safe drinking water. Families coming to Maseru in search of work often remain unemployed and live in poverty. Rising food and fuel prices and disrupted trade of goods and services as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine have taken a toll on the economy. Like in other parts of Lesotho, HIV/AIDS also continues to pose a major challenge in Maseru.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Maseru.
In recent years, vast numbers of people have migrated to the city of Maseru in search for work. However, many remain unemployed. Furthermore, rapid urbanization has put increased pressure on basic services and facilities in the city. Many people end up living in unplanned settlements with poor housing and limited access to sanitation and clean drinking water.
It is estimated that around 1 in 3 families living in Maseru is poor. Parents struggle to provide their children with enough nutritious food – many are forced to leave school at an early age.
Similar to other areas of the country, many people living in the densely populated city of Maseru live with HIV. In fact, at an estimated infection rate of 40%, the proportion of people living with the virus is much higher than the national average for Lesotho.
In addition, poor living conditions and lack of clean water supply in some parts of the city increase the risk of other infectious diseases. Tuberculosis is also widespread, and around 40% of people receiving treatment for HIV also have tuberculosis.