Arusha is a city located at the foot of Mount Meru in northern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border. It is the capital of the Arusha Region and has a population of approximately 416,000. Arusha is, on the one hand, a relatively developed city that draws thousands of international tourists and businesses to the region each year. On the other hand, there are overcrowded slums where people live in very poor conditions. The surrounding areas are mainly agricultural and most people live off subsistence farming. However, the drop in coffee prices in recent years has hit the local population badly.
Since 2000, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Arusha.
Arusha is relatively developed, but the city’s rapid growth in recent years has led to insufficient infrastructure. Living conditions for the majority of the population have increasingly deteriorated and more and more people live in slums. These dwellings are neither stable nor safe and have no toilets, running water or electricity. Almost half of the population has no access to clean drinking water. The government has committed to increase access to improved sanitation to 95%, but much remains to be done. Without adequate sanitation, people are highly vulnerable to disease. Children are particularly at risk. Largely preventable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea kill 270 children under 5 in Tanzania every single day.
As in other parts of Tanzania, access to education in Arusha is not possible for every child. While the country achieved almost universal access to primary education a few years ago, the number of children of primary school age is declining. An estimated 2 million children between the ages of 7 and 13 are not in school. An even larger proportion of young people between 14 and 17 do not attend secondary school. Inequality is a real challenge when it comes to education. Primary school-aged children from the poorest households are three times less likely to attend school than children from wealthier families. Girls and children living with disabilities are even more likely to be unable to access education.