The city of Gikongoro is located in Nyamagabe in the Southern Province of Rwanda. The district is home to the eastern half of the Nyungwe Forest, which attracts tourists to the region as chimpanzees and other primates live there.
However, living conditions for most of the local population in the region are harsh. More than half of Rwandans have no access to clean water, and here in the south of the country the situation is particularly critical. For this reason, many people, especially children, are at great risk of contracting water-borne diseases. In addition, HIV/AIDS continues to be a problem in the region.
Since 1992, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Gikongoro.
Living conditions in the Nyamagabe region, where Gikongoro is located, are very tough. Almost 2 in 3 people in Rwanda do not have access to clean water, and in the south of the country, the situation is even more severe.
In addition, drinking unclean or unsafe water is the cause of many water-borne diseases in the region, which are particularly dangerous for children. In fact, a large part of consultations in health centres are due to malaria. Like in other parts of the country HIV/AIDS also continues to severely affect the population. Illness is often the cause for a family’s descent into deeper poverty, since most people are subsistence farmers, and if they cannot work, they cannot eat.
In Nyamagabe, most schools were destroyed during the war. Classes are often held in borrowed buildings. In most cases, there is neither running water, nor electricity, nor adequate sanitation. There is also a great need for teaching materials, a standardised national curriculum, and qualified staff. Classes are very large, averaging 62 children per teacher. This particularly affects the agricultural sector. The lack of knowledge of, and access to, modern farming methods is causing environmental degradation which, in turn, causes food shortages and malnutrition. This has particularly negative effects on children, in addition to the fact that without a proper education, future chances to escape poverty are slim.