Kita is a city of about 50,000 inhabitants in the southwest of Mali in the Kayes region. It is an important location for the manufacturing industry and the surrounding area is mainly agricultural.
The Kayes region is one of the driest in Mali and has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the country. High food prices and severe poverty continue to threaten thousands of families in Mali.
To make matters worse, violent fighting in the north of the country has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Since 2008, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kita.
Mali has one of the highest birth rates in the world; a Malian mother gives birth to an average of 5.6 children. Due to widespread poverty and lack of basic social and medical services, a large proportion of the young population is vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. As a result, Mali also has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition. Around 26% of Malian children suffer from stunting. This is when children do not receive the nutrition they need to grow up healthily. Even in good times, food security in Mali is precarious. In times of drought or violence, the situation of children in Mali is particularly worrying.
The recent political instability has affected the lives of children in several ways. According to international reports, armed groups have recruited boys to fight and forced girls to marry members of such groups. In addition, children are often not protected from violence and the risk of human trafficking.
Many families have had to flee, leaving their homes and livelihoods behind. While families struggle to have food and a safe roof over their heads, their children's education is at risk. By mid-2021, 1,595 schools had to be closed due to the insecure political situation, leaving more than 478,000 children unable to attend school.