Liberia is located along the coast of western Africa and is home to over 5.2 million people. Liberia is abundant in rivers and rainforests and rich in minerals like iron and diamonds.
However, decades of political instability have crippled Liberia’s chances of capitalizing on its natural resources. The civil war destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and led to severe poverty.
In the 2010s, a devastating Ebola epidemic killed thousands and further hurt the economy. The recovery is slow and Liberia remains one of the countries in Africa with the lowest income.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Liberia since 1981.
Child labour is common among many vulnerable communities in Liberia. 14% of children (aged 5-17 years) are engaged in some kind of labour. This is often as a result of human trafficking and they are involved in dangerous activities such as the production of rubber and the mining of gold and diamonds. Child labour deprives children of an education and this will make it harder for them to thrive in the future.
Children who are not registered at birth cannot access basic rights and services. A proof of legal identity provides children with education and healthcare. Despite Liberia’s efforts to increase birth registrations through public health facilities, they remain one of the lowest in West Africa. In fact, only 25% of children under 5 are registered at birth. Challenges also stem from the complexity of the nationality legislation, where women are prevented from transmitting Liberian nationality under specific conditions.
Malnourishment in Liberia is a major challenge. The country has one of the highest rates of stunting in the world. More specifically, 1 in 3 children under the age of 5 are stunted or too short for their age.
When children don’t get the nourishment required for them to grow up healthy, they are at higher risk of death from common illnesses. Stunting also affects brain function and the immune system, leading many children to perform poorly in school.