Lome is the densely populated and rapidly expanding capital of Togo. It is a major port situated on the southern coast of Togo on the Gulf of Guinea. The cityscape is one of great contrasts; wide, tree-lined boulevards and luxurious villas co-exist with dirt roads and sprawling slums.
Lome is one of many cities in Western Africa which faces over-urbanisation. The population is growing faster than the local economy, leading to major social and economic challenges. Almost a quarter of the nation's population lives in Lome.
Dire conditions driven by rapid population growth
People from rural areas are driven to the city by poverty. As a result, the population and surface area of Lome have tripled over the last three decades. This rapid urban growth has led to an increase in informal housing and a proliferation of slums where people are excluded from access to basic services and facilities.
Consequently, children can find themselves living in slums and on the streets. They survive by begging or by picking through the city’s large garbage dumps to try and find recyclables to sell on. These children suffer from extreme deprivation and have no access to healthcare or education.
Harmful practices and ongoing stigmatisation
Children living under slum conditions are highly vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation as enforcement of child-related laws remains weak. Child traffickers capitalize not only on entrenched poverty, but also on inadequate access to education, poor vocational opportunities and orphanhood. Children are trafficked for reasons including labour and sexual exploitation.
Girls are irrevocably harmed by deeply rooted cultural practices such as forced early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Polygamy is openly practiced in Togo and the practice of FGM remains common. Children living with disabilities face great challenges in finding acceptance from families and communities as cultural traditions continue to marginalise disabled children. These children are subject to profound levels of exclusion and discrimination and are highly vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse especially in the overpopulated areas of the capital.
Our work in Lome
We opened our SOS Children’s Village in Lome in 1979. Today, dozens of children who have lost parental care live in an SOS family under the care of an SOS mother.
Our SOS nursery provides preschool places to around 50 children from our Children’s Village and the neighbourhood. This spreads the benefit well beyond the Children's Village and ensures that children from SOS families are integrated into the local community from a young age.
When children are old enough to leave the Village, many move on to our SOS youth home where we support them through education and pastoral guidance on their journey to independence.
Since 2004, our SOS social centre has provided support to vulnerable families from the surrounding community. Our family strengthening programme ensures children have access to essential education, nutrition and health services. Here, we offer parents guidance on income generation and parenting practices, and provide counselling and psychological support both to children and their caregivers. Our support goes out especially to families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Deprived children living in Lome face innumerable challenges. We help to provide a better, happier, healthier environment for these children to grow up in. Please help by sponsoring a child.