The Republic of Cameroon is situated in West Africa and is home to more than 26 million people. Generally, the country is more politically and economically stable than other countries in the region. However, families are in need of support as they continue to face important challenges. Economic crises and conflicts in neighbouring countries have repeatedly affected the lives of Cameroonians, as many refugees come here, especially in the northern and eastern areas of the country.
Malnutrition, the lack of education and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS are severe problems in Cameroon, which tend to be especially challenging for children in the country.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it in Cameroon since 1998.
While the economic situation in Cameroon has been improving, the population is growing faster than poverty is decreasing - around 8 million people are still very poor. Families in the rural northern and eastern regions are particularly affected. They often face a lack of job opportunities and declining incomes. In addition, many people do not have access to safe drinking water and many are lacking sanitation facilities. This contributes to the spread of diseases that are particularly dangerous for children, such as the recent outbreaks of cholera.
Access to education has become easier for children in Cameroon. However, there are still challenges. Although primary school enrolment rates are quite high, 4 out of 10 children do not complete primary school. In rural Cameroon, families live very remotely and schools are far away, meaning that many children have to travel long distances every day if they are to have access to education at all. Additionally, boys and girls often do not have the same educational opportunities, which increases inequality.
While the number of infections has been falling, around 3% of Cameroon’s population still lives with HIV. Many children are directly affected, as prevention of mother-to-child- transmission cannot be guaranteed for everyone, especially in rural areas where medical services are scarce. Many more children are indirectly affected when their parents fall ill. In fact, around 420,000 children are estimated to be without parental care due to HIV/AIDS. Left to fend for themselves, these children are extremely vulnerable to malnutrition, disease and poverty.