The Republic of Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country in Western Asia and part of the Caucasus region with around 2.9 million inhabitants. The capital city of Yerevan is home to about one million people. Between 35-40% of Armenians live in rural areas.
Armenia faces challenges with high unemployment and labour skills that do not match the jobs available. The government has addressed some of the income inequality seen in earlier decades. However, more recently the country has seen rising poverty rates and an increasing vulnerability of children, young people and families.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Armenia since 1988.
Around 7 in 10 children experience some form of psychological or physical punishment, including children under the age of one.
As a result, thousands of children are separated from their family and placed in institutions. Some of these separations could be avoided with appropriate support to families. Family separation negatively impacts children in many ways, including their physical and mental health. It also leads to social marginalization and poorer future prospects.
Despite free primary and secondary school education, 1 in 10 young children and 1 in 4 older children are not in education in Armenia. Around 12% of young people are also absent because they are not in education, employment, or training. As a result, up to 45% of students lack basic educational abilities and 20% have limited literacy in English, math, and science.
These dropout rates are closely linked to poverty, child labour, and child marriage.
In 2020, more than 25% of the population lived below the national poverty line. As a result, up to 30% of children lived in poverty, and this number rose to more than 80% in some rural communities.
Children born into poverty are more likely to experience a wide range of health problems, including poor nutrition, chronic disease, and mental health problems. Poverty puts an additional strain on families, which can lead to parental mental health and relationship problems, financial challenges, and substance misuse.