Malawi is a landlocked country in the south of Africa. Its population amounts to roughly 19 million and is growing rapidly. Malawi's largest city Lilongwe, in the central region, is also its capital. At present, Malawi is among the world's most densely populated and least developed nations. Although the government has been making efforts to fight high levels of HIV/AIDS, the pandemic still profoundly affects the country, both demographically and economically. Life expectancy is very low and Malawi's death rate continues to be one of the highest in the entire world.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Malawi since 1986.
More than 5 out of 10 Malawians live in poverty. Millions of people, especially in rural areas, live in dire conditions. They still have no access to running water, adequate sanitation or medical facilities. Many people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but recurrent floods and droughts threaten this source of income. It is estimated that about half of the country's poor people live in extreme poverty and struggle to get enough to eat. This has particularly serious long-term consequences for children, as they do not receive enough food for healthy development.
Although the Malawian government has taken concrete measures to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the virus still has a major impact on the country's society. About 1.1 million Malawians are living with HIV/AIDS and 65,000 are children under 15. This makes the country one of the most affected countries in the world, and thousands of people lose their lives to the virus every year. Many children also lose their parents in this way and are left without care and vulnerable to all kinds of risks.
In Malawi, child labour affects 26% of children aged 5 to 14. Severe poverty and loss of parental care due to HIV/AIDS are the main factors driving thousands of children into child labour to earn a living. While boys usually work in the fields, girls sell goods or are forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Although school attendance has increased in recent years, only about half of the children complete primary school and the education of those who do go to school remains a challenge due to the poor quality of education.