Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda and has over one million inhabitants. The city is located in the centre of Rwanda and has grown rapidly in recent years due to rural-urban migration. Life in the city's informal settlements is extremely difficult: water supply, sanitation, electricity as well as waste collection and sewage systems are non-existent. In addition, more than half of Kigali's population is under 15 years old. This means there are many dependent children and young people in Kigali who face the harsh living conditions of the city. As in other parts of Rwanda, HIV/AIDS remains a major public health problem.
Since 1979, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kigali.
The situation in Rwanda has improved steadily over the years. However, many challenges remain, which are clearly visible in the country's capital. With the growth of Kigali, many informal settlements have formed in the city. In these settlements, living conditions are usually extremely poor. Adequate housing is not available, nor is clean drinking water or sanitation facilities such as toilets. In fact, 57% of Rwandans have no access to clean drinking water. This is particularly dangerous for children, as they can easily contract waterborne diseases. Many families living in poverty cannot afford to provide their children with sufficient nutritious food, and many children have problems with physical and behavioural development.
In Kigali, an estimated 10,000 children live on the streets. In many cases, they have lost their parents, often due to HIV/AIDS, and their relatives are unable to care for them. Left to fend for themselves, these children are exposed to innumerable dangers. For example, young girls and boys are often exposed to forced labour and forced commercial sexual exploitation. The latter puts them at risk of contracting HIV, which severely affects the children's lives, especially since medical treatment is not guaranteed. Currently, an estimated 14,000 children in the country are living with the virus. Others become pregnant at a young age. This, in turn, can cause them to drop out of education and have fewer opportunities later in life.