Santo Domingo’s population of almost 3.5 million people lives in one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. It has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. But it is also a modern and dynamic economic and commercial centre of the Dominican Republic.
It is a divided city with great contrasts in terms of standards of living. Most families live in neigbourhoods on the outskirts of the city. Children and young people growing up here lack access to basic services.
Since 1985, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Santo Domingo-Los Mina.
Around 22% of girls between the ages of 12-19 have been pregnant in the Dominican Republic.
Pregnancy in teens is higher in rural areas where women have limited access to healthcare, which in turn leads in some cases to increased infant and maternal mortality.
Girls who become pregnant need extra support so that they can stay in education. Currently, 31% of adolescents who report having been pregnant did not attend school or college during their first pregnancy, and 49% dropped out after the birth of their first child.
Although there has been recent economic growth that has seen some Dominicans get wealthy, the majority still lives in extreme hardship without access to education and healthcare.
Rural areas are usually the poorest but there are poor areas and slums around the capital city’s Santo Domingo. While the wealthier live in sprawling mansions, one fifth of the population lives in slums without access to running water, electricity and sanitation. Children who consume contaminated water are often affected by illness, which can, especially in small children, lead to death.