With a total population of over 200 million, Nigeria is one of the world's most populous countries. Nearly half of the population lives in cities, and the number of people moving to urban areas is increasing. Poverty is widespread and as cities grow quickly, many families end up living in inadequate housing: in shacks without access to sanitation or safe drinking water. Furthermore, Nigeria continues to face serious health challenges, above all the HIV/AIDS pandemic and lack of appropriate medical care. Infant and maternal mortality are also high, and many children lack access to education.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it in Nigeria since 1973.
Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. Although it is rich in petroleum, natural gas, tin and coal, over 60% of its people live in poverty. There are big regional differences; the highest levels of poverty are found in the northern areas of the country, which are also most affected by political instability. Furthermore, within cities, which have grown rapidly in recent years, inequality also persists. Many people live in very poor conditions, without access to sanitation, such as toilets, or safe drinking water. This presents a particularly risk for children.
Nigeria is faced with numerous health challenges. Despite recent improvements, hundreds of children under the age of 5 die daily. Only a handful of babies are born in health centers or get fully vaccinated. Many women also die during childbirth. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS continues to be present in the country, as around 1.8 million people currently live with the virus. Many children lose their parents due to the disease. Without parental care, these children are left extremely vulnerable to malnourishment and exploitation.
Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory in Nigeria, millions of the country’s children are not in school. In fact, an international comparison has shown that 1 in every 5 of the world’s out-of-school children are in Nigeria. Just over half of children regularly attend primary school and even fewer receive early childhood education. Girls are particularly marginalized when it comes to education. Without a formal education, they are at a severe disadvantage and will struggle to escape the cycle of poverty.