Madagascar Children

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries on the planet and conditions there for children are harsh. Half of all children under the age of five will die of diarrhoea, those who do survive will suffer from frequent bouts of illness even at school, where only 18% of Madagascar's schools have access to drinking water and only 30% have toilets. 36.8% of children under the age of 5yrs in Madagascar are underweight and 51 children out of every 1000 die at birth (compared to 4.56 in the UK.)

Most children who live in Madagascar help their families raise rice and herd cattle, mainly ox-like mammals, and they measure their wealth by how many cattle they have.

Children and their families live in homes mainly made of traditional logs with grass providing the roof and without basic amenities such as electricity which is almost unheard of outside urban areas.

Only 11% of rural children have access to basic sanitation causing health risks particularly to children under the age of five in a country where health care in some areas is practically non-existent.

Toys for children in Madagascar are far removed from those available to children in more developed countries as they are made from discarded plastic bags, oil-drum lids and pebbles. You would think that in a country where 85% of children in rural areas live below the poverty line and 40% are malnourished things couldn't get much worse. But they are following the military coup in 2009 and suspension of humanitarian aid from the EU.

Struggling to survive, parents are taking children in their millions out of school to supplement already meagre incomes with these children now working as labourers in the fishing industry, as domestic servants or in stone quarries. It is estimated that around one in four of all children in Madagascar work to help their family survive. And we're not talking just teenagers here. One seven year old boy stated "I have to crush two big bags of gravel per day to make my mother happy." Mother is happy to survive another day with her family. Many thousands of children, some as young as five, also work the land, operating dangerous machinery exposing themselves to toxic fumes.


Madagascar Children

Madagascar Children

Madagascar Children

Madagascar Children


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Madagascar Children

Madagascar Children

Of the 9,571,000 children in Madagascar, there are 910,000 orphans, just under 10%,and 11,000 of these have been orphaned by AIDS (although some sources put this higher at 30,000) with five children being born every day in Madagascar with the virus.

Overall 43% of the country's population is under the age of 15yrs old (compared with 17% for the UK) and many grow up without adult care having to fend for themselves or being brought up in child-headed families.

Madagascar Children PicturesAs discussed elsewhere, many children in Madagascar do not attend school, and for those who do there are high drop out rates with only 60% completing primary education (6 - 11 yrs).

These figures are somewhat distorted by the fact that around one third of all children in Madagascar had no access to primary education in the first place and those who do often find their already run down schools badly damaged by the storms that hit the island every year making them unusable for long periods, or closed due to a lack of teaching staff.

The reality is that many Madagascar children are dependent on outside aid to have any viable future however, apart from the work of some NGOs operating in the country, that aid has mainly been suspended.

Children in MadagascarThe video, above, explores the situation of children in Madagascar where many are now suffering from malnutrition not least because of erratic rainfall patterns and the suspension of aid from the EU and other places following the political crisis of 2009. It shows how organisations such as UNICEF are reaching out to children and families in Madagascar to assist.

For more information about life for children in Madagascar and the situation in the country today check out the information articles below.

The current crisis had led to an increase in the numbers of street children in places like the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo, already home to thousands of children begging on the streets. One eleven year old even described the lifestyle as even being lucky: "Sometimes the street vendors let us sleep by their fires. The grannies who sleep on the pavements know us; they know we have our own money and we won't steal from them, so they let us stay." More >


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