South Africa

SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (photo: SOS Children’s Villages South Africa).

The Republic of South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent. Its total population amounts to approximately 59 million and is a multi-ethnic society, encompassing a wide variety of languages, cultures and religions. South Africa’s capital city is Pretoria. Although South Africa has the continent's biggest economy, inequality is a challenge in the country and the lives of many of its citizens are still marked by high levels of poverty. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS continues to present a major public health concern. Many adults, as well as children, live with the virus. Other children lose their parents due to the disease.

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in South Africa since 1984.

Children are at risk

Children under 18 years of age represent two-fifths of South Africa's population. However, nearly 3.9 million children in South Africa are without full parental care. Around two million of them have lost either one or both of their parents due to HIV/AIDS and are often left to fend for themselves. Many children live in poverty and have no opportunity to go to school. In addition, South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Growing up in a largely unsafe environment with a high crime rate, many children are exposed to increased risk on a daily basis.
1 in 2
People in South Africa live in poverty

Widespread poverty

South Africa is a country characterised by tremendous contrast: while thousands of people live in extreme poverty, others reside in luxury housing, located in "gated communities". Despite South Africa's status as an upper middle-income country, over half of its population still lives in poverty. Although poverty figures have dropped over recent years, the marginalization of tens of thousands of people who find themselves on the bottom steps of the socioeconomic ladder is evident. Furthermore, income inequality has been on the rise.

Of South African children do not get an education


Thousands of children cannot go to school due to financial constraints. In many cases, children have to work to secure their families' income. One of the many reasons for this is that parents fall ill with HIV/AIDS and can no longer provide adequately for their families. However, the country has made significant progress in access to primary education. The primary school enrolment rate in South Africa is 99%. On the other hand, the remaining 1% still represent a large number of children who have no chance of a better future.

People in South Africa live with HIV/AIDS


South Africa has one of the highest numbers of HIV-positive citizens in the world. Although the government has implemented a number of prevention programmes, approximately 7.5 million South Africans between the ages of 15 and 49 are living with HIV/AIDS, making the disease one of the country's greatest health challenges. In many cases, children are directly affected by the virus. In other cases, they are indirectly affected as they lose parental care due to the disease. This means that they often cannot go to school or escape the vicious circle of poverty.

Together we can make a difference for children in South Africa

Can stay together
Adults and children
Received medical support
Children and young people
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
When Elsie’s mother died when she was 13, her grandparents became her caregivers. In the area where they live, we are supporting families with food parcels and fees for transport to school in order to ensure children stay in school and have access to quality education. Elsie continued to receive help throughout her university education (photo: SOS Children’s Villages South Africa).

Working together for sustainable development

In 2015, leaders from 193 countries committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This 15 year plan aims to improve the lives of people by ending poverty, fighting inequality and protecting the planet.
GOAL 1: End poverty
SOS Children’s Villages supports families and communities to keep families together and to help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
GOAL 4: Ensure quality education for all
Every child and young person SOS Children’s Villages supports has access to education, from kindergarten right up to vocational training or university.
GOAL 8: Equal job opportunities for all
SOS Children’s Villages supports young people in developing the skills and self-confidence they need to find decent work and train parents so that they can have a stable income.
GOAL 10: Reduce inequalities
SOS Children’s Villages works to keep children safe by promoting peaceful and inclusive communities. We provide training on children’s rights and positive parenting. .
GOAL 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies
We advocate laws and practices that ensure social inclusion and protection for children and young people without parental care or from marginalized households.

Let’s keep on protecting children and young people!

Many children have been able to find a safe and secure home. With your help, we can continue to change their lives