Situated in the eastern Senegalese region of the same name, Tambacounda is home to around 80,000 people. This is a lot for this relatively sparsely populated area of the country and makes it a major commercial and cultural centre.
The official language of the area is French, but, just as in much of the rest of the country, the most widely spoken language is Wolof. The local economy relies heavily on the cotton industry, and it is a major source of employment for local people.
Threat of famine
Food insecurity is a prime concern for people living in Tambacounda and its causes are complex and difficult to control. Poor rainfall is the basis for bad harvests, but this is exacerbated other factors, such as high global food prices and falls in the size of remittances sent from relatives overseas.
Everyone suffers when food is scarce, but children are the worst affected. Malnutrition can harm their long-term physical and cognitive development, leading to problems in later life. Acute malnutrition also kills thousands of children every year and makes them far more susceptible to other diseases, like malaria and pneumonia.
Another major challenge that children in the region face is the tendency towards large family sizes. In Tambacounda 36% of households contain 11 or more people and this can have a negative impact on all the children involved.
Parents who are caring for so many children struggle to cope both in terms of practical concerns, such as overcrowding, and with giving adequate attention to them all. This can leave many children struggling to get everything they need for their healthy development.
What is SOS Children doing here?
We began working in Tambacounda in 2010 and have rapidly expanded our efforts, so that every child gets the chances they deserve in life. We now offer a range of services to individuals, families and the local community.
Preventing famine and loss of family
Our family strengthening programme targets families that are at most risk of either abandoning their kids or just not being able to properly care for them. Due to the special challenges of the region we provide particular support to prevent malnutrition among children, including providing food packages and guidance on preparing nutritious meals.
The SOS social centre also offers health services and counselling to parents, as well as training to develop income generating activities that will help them to provide. Currently, around 900 children and 180 adults benefit from the services we provide.
Our SOS medical centre focuses primarily on the care of mothers and children, and provides services to around 200 local people every day. It also emphasises preventative medicine and is often at the forefront of nutrition and immunisation programmes in the area.
15 SOS families provide effective family based care for children who can no longer live with their parents. Here they are looked after by their SOS mother and live alongside their brother and sisters as a family.
It is important that these children make friends outside of their families as well, so they all attend the local SOS nursery with other children from the local community. Even at this young age the relationships they create will be invaluable.
Children with nothing in Tambacounda are given the chance of a happy and healthy childhood. Will you sponsor one of these children today?