The city of Mwanza is located in northeastern Tanzania, on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. Mwanza is the second largest city in the country and has about 1.1 million inhabitants.
Because of the port, most people in Mwanza work either in fishing or in the service sector. Many people move to the city and surrounding areas in search of a better life. However, the rapid growth means that many families have to live in inadequate housing. In addition, the HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a major challenge in the city and many children lose parental care due to the disease.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Mwanza.
Many people move to Mwanza and the surrounding areas in search of a better life. In many cases, however, they have to live in inadequate housing. In fact, 60% of the houses in Mwanza are built in unplanned areas, which means they have no access to electricity or clean water. Many people in these informal settlements have difficulty finding formal employment and the lack of money means that their children do not receive enough nutritious food. In addition, the level of education in these areas is low. In recent years, the number of children attending school has increased thanks to efforts by the government. However, there is a significant shortage of teachers and school materials. Mwanza has some of the most overcrowded classrooms in the country.
As in other parts of Tanzania, the HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a major challenge in Mwanza. About 5% of the country's population is living with the disease, and the number of people affected is particularly high here. With a lack of medical care in many areas, a lot of families are at the mercy of infection. While the government is working on increasing the number of doctors and health centres, many are still affected. Some children live with the disease; others experience the indirect consequences when their parents fall ill. Without parental care or at risk of losing it, children are very vulnerable. They have to contribute to the household income or fend for themselves entirely. Some have to drop out of school and thus cannot escape the cycle of poverty.