Four out of 400 million: The children in Africa represent a large part of the population. This image was taken in Gode, Ethiopia - Photo: Michela Morosini
Over 400 million children are currently living on the African continent - and the number is rising. The United Nations estimates that Africa's population will double to 2.4 billion by 2050. That's one quarter of the world's population. 40 percent of all children under the age of five would live in Africa in the middle of the 21st century, according to the prognosis.
Children in Africa - numerous and destitute
Africa is already considered Asia after Asia as the continent where most children are born each year. The proportion of under-15s was 41 percent in 2010 across the continent. In some African countries, such as Uganda, Angola, Mali, Niger or the Democratic Republic of Congo, half of all inhabitants are still under 15 years old.
Although there are major regional and social differences, children in Africa are the poorest in terms of population. The situation of African children in sub-Saharan Africa is particularly critical: 33 of the world's 48 least developed countries are located in this region. The birth rate in this part of Africa is among the highest ever, and tragically, the infant mortality rate as well.
Children in Africa ... suffer from hunger and its consequences
Is the little one too thin? One third of children in Africa suffer from the consequences of chronic malnutrition: - Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui
The World Bank estimates that between 45 and 50 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line, ie they have to live on less than $ 1.25 a day. This makes the sub-Saharan region the poorest region in the world. The African continent also has the highest number of malnourished people, at 24.8 percent. More than 30 percent of children in Africa suffer from the consequences of chronic malnutrition: physical and mental development disorders affect their daily lives. They are often too small for their age, suffer from heart disease, kidney damage, and have a very weak immune system that is very difficult to ward off diarrhea or pneumonia.
Children in Africa ... die before the fifth birthday
Despite the millennium goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, one child in the world still dies every five seconds. The child mortality rate is particularly high in the African states of Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is the country with the highest infant mortality rate ever: out of 1,000 live births, 185 children do not experience their fifth birthday. The five most common causes of early death for many children in Africa include pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, and complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Children in Africa ... grow up without their parents
Growing up without a mother and father - that's the sad reality for 15 million children in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease HIV / AIDS has taken one or even both parents. They live with relatives or on the street, without a home. Many of the AIDS orphans were also infected with the treacherous virus while still in the womb or during birth or breastfeeding. A large number of AIDS orphans live in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Timely education and medication could significantly reduce the number of new infections in Africa.
Children in Africa ... are persecuted, recruited, injured and married
Hunger, poverty, violence and armed conflicts mean that millions of African children are fleeing - alone or with their families. War is raging in many countries of the African continent: millions of children are living in constant terror in the midst of terror and violence. In countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Somalia, Uganda or Sudan child soldiers are still recruited.
30 million children in sub-Saharan Africa can not go to school - the majority of them are girls - Photo: Benno Neelemann
In the countries of western and northeastern Africa, girls are circumcised. Partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora is painful, life-threatening, and results in irreparable damage such as incontinence, infertility, or urinary tract infections. Infibulated girls and women are robbed of their sexual ability to experience and feel strong pain during intercourse. Among the African countries where genital mutilation is widespread are Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone and the north of Sudan.
Millions of African girls are also threatened with forced marriages in many states. The marriage of underage girls is a tradition in many African tribes. Girls in childhood are married as a so-called "child brides" of their parents to a usually much older man and get far too early own children.
Children in Africa ... have to work instead of going to school
Primary education for all - this is the second of the UN Millennium Development Goals, which is unlikely to be achieved by 2015. Many children in Africa are excluded from school and contribute to the livelihood of their family instead. Experts estimate that a total of 30 million children in sub-Saharan Africa do not attend school. 54 percent of them are girls. Particularly critical is the situation in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Niger. Children in Africa work on plantations, in mines, quarries or factories. Often they are forced to prostitute themselves. Most child laborers are exploited and have no chance of attending school because they have neither the time nor the strength to learn.
How the SOS Children's Villages help children in Africa
For more than 40 years, the SOS Children's Villages in Africa have provided assistance. In 46 African countries, there are a total of 147 SOS Children's Villages, where orphaned and abandoned children find a new home. Added to this are additional facilities and development aid projects: kindergartens, schools, vocational training centers, family support programs, SOS medical centers and emergency aid actions. Support the SOS Children's Villages and ensure that children in Africa have a better future.