Blantyre is the second largest city in Malawi and has about 800,000 inhabitants. It is an important financial and commercial centre and is located in the south of the country. However, both in the surrounding rural areas and in the city itself, life remains very difficult for the majority of the population. In the rural areas, most people are employed in agriculture and barely make ends meet. Children are often expected to work in the fields to contribute to the household income. Others migrate to the city of Blantyre where they have to survive on the streets. This makes them extremely vulnerable for exploitation.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Blantyre.
The economic situation in and around the city of Blantyre is catastrophic for many families. In the rural areas, many people work in agriculture. Especially on tea and tobacco plantations, people mostly work as tenants, which means they have to meet production targets. This puts enormous pressure on families, so that children often have to support them - it is estimated that up to 80% of working children are under 14 years old. These children miss crucial years of their education, which significantly reduces their future opportunities. As a result, many children and young people struggle to escape poverty.
Limited physical and intellectual development among children is a widespread problem in Malawi. Although the proportion of children suffering from stunting has decreased significantly in recent years, the high population growth in and around Blantyre has led to an increase in the absolute number of children under 5 suffering from this condition. Almost 4 out of 10 children are still not growing healthily for their age, which can have serious consequences for their development. Many children in Malawi have little access to food, drinking water and good sanitation, which are essential for optimal child development.