A small port of around 15,000 inhabitants, Tadjourah is the capital of the Tadjourah region in Djibouti.
We chose to work in Tadjourah as most aid that comes into the county tends to go to the cities, and little reaches rural areas where residents experience some of the worst poverty of all.
Rural residents face the most difficulty in Djibouti
Most of the country's residents live in major cities, with rural areas being sparsely populated. A large part of the economy in the region is pastoral farming, which is susceptible to drought. However, the scarcity of arable land in this desert country makes life on the fringes very difficult. Food vulnerability has contributed to malnutrition, particularly in children and pregnant women.
In Tadjourah, the majority of the inhabitants live on less than $1 a day. The population has tripled in size over the last 20 years, so more and more young people search for jobs - often in vain.
Extreme poverty makes childhood very difficult
To get a decent education beyond primary schooling, rural children have to travel to the nearby city, but the costs, at €75 a year are too high for most. As a result of these factors, around 70% of the total population are illiterate, with the figure for women being 85% as they are expected to help at home rather than earn an education and work.
It is estimated that at least 30% of the population drink from unsafe water sources. Many children drop out of school because their families need them to collect water, which can be a 30km daily round trip.
HIV/AIDS is a major issue, and children orphaned by the disease have little or no support. Medicines are subsidised by the government but there are frequently shortages of medicines at pharmacies and hospitals, and healthcare is so sparse that people have to travel long distances to get treatment.
SOS Children's work in Tadjourah
From 2011, we have been running family strengthening programmes in Tadjourah to prevent family breakdown. An important aspect of our work is to keep families together, and ensure that children can go to school instead of working. By empowering families to be self-sufficient, for example by helping them earn more money, we help to ensure family cohesion.
We run an SOS nursery for the community, which enables parents to earn money while they leave their children with us, while giving children an education at an early age.
The Children's Village in Tadjourah opened in 2014 and has the capacity to care for 100 children unable to live with their parents. Living in a family environment and cared for by an SOS mother, children attend the SOS nursery and local state schools in the community.