Dar es Salaam was Tanzania’s capital until 1996 and remains the largest city in the country. It is located on the eastern Indian Ocean coast and has a population of over 4 million. Its seaport makes it an important economic and commercial hub in the region. Although the city is the most developed in the country and poverty levels have been reduced in recent years, living conditions remain very difficult for large sectors of the population. The city is growing rapidly and many families end up living in slums. Children here grow up in very poor conditions, with limited access to basic services, healthcare or schools.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dar es Salaam.
Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest growing cities on the African continent. However, the infrastructure cannot keep up with the rapid growth. More and more people do not have access to basic services. Most live in slums, and power rationing remains a problem for the entire city. In addition to the rapid population growth, internal migration to the city also puts an additional strain on the already fragile social system. The lack of sanitation can lead to the spread of diseases: in fact, only about 10 % of the population in these areas is connected to the sewage system. During the rainy season, the situation is even worse, as floods regularly destroy the already poor infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the hardship experienced by families in Dar es Salaam and other parts of Tanzania can impact children in many ways. A large proportion of children and young people in the country experience violence and abuse, often within their family environment. Close to three quarters of children under the age of 17 report having experienced some form of violence or threat. Domestic violence is generally accepted in families and violence against children is further reinforced by legal frameworks that legitimize corporal punishment of children at home and in schools. Furthermore, early marriage before the age of 18 is common in Tanzania. This increases young girls’ vulnerability to violence and abuse and reduces their chances at getting a formal education.