The Togolese Republic, also known as Togo, is a small West African country located along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It has a population of around 8.5 million. While many languages are spoken in Togo, the official language is French. Togo is culturally rich with a blend of several ethnic and racial groups. It has a good growing climate that supports its dependence on agriculture. Even so, most Togolese are very poor, and few have access to education and sufficient nutrition.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Togo since 1979.
Like most African countries, Togo has experienced rapid population growth over recent decades. This has made Togo disproportionately young, and the age of the average citizen is 18.5 years old.
However, rapid population growth is outpacing development progress, so that more and more people have limited access to services such as health care or sanitation. This reinforces the vicious circle and leads to many people living in poverty.
Togo is the tenth poorest country in the world, and about 50% of Togolese people live below the international poverty line of 1.25 USD per day. Female-headed households are most affected by poverty. Women remain more vulnerable, because they have less access to education and work. Children in disadvantaged households often leave school early to help support their families. Only around half of children between 13 and 15 attend school and only a quarter between ages 16-18.
Around 30% of children aged 5 to 14 are engaged in labour activities. Most children from rural areas work on family farms while those who live in urban centres engage in small-scale trading or domestic service. Children also work in rock quarries where they have to transport heavy stones or extract sand that is used for the production of bricks. The commercial sexual exploitation of minors, in particular young girls, is common in some areas of the country.