Ngabu is located in the southern part of Malawi, in the rural district of Chikwawa. Children growing up here face some of the most difficult conditions in the country. The region has one of the highest poverty rates and most families rely on subsistence farming to feed themselves. There is very little infrastructure to meet the needs of the local population, including children. For example, there are very few schools or medical centres. At the same time, however, the number of people suffering from HIV/AIDS is increasing, and more and more children in the region are affected.
Since 1994, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ngabu.
As many children in Ngabu lose their parents due to HIV/AIDS and many more families live in poverty, children often have to work to contribute to their families' household income or to earn their own living. However, this prevents them from attending school regularly. In fact, only about half of all school-age children attend school and the dropout rate is high. Furthermore, only 7% of children in the region attend secondary school, and access to vocational training is also difficult for them. Those children who do attend school often have to walk long distances, and the quality of teaching is affected by the fact that there are on average more than 130 students in a classroom.
The majority of people in rural Ngabu rely on agriculture to generate income, as well as to grow their own food. Over 80% of people make a living in the agricultural sector. However, production is very much dependent on weather conditions, and in recent years, recurring droughts and floods have led to crop failures. Poverty has been rising, worsening the already dire economic situation in the area. Furthermore, families suffer from food shortages. Around 8 in 10 poor rural households do not eat enough food to lead a healthy life. Children under 5 are at particular risk, as undernourishment limits their physical growth and brain development.